LOS ANGELES - Jaroslav Halak allowed three goals in each of his first three starts as an Islander last season. He won all three before a four-game losing streak had many wondering if Halak were indeed the right goaltender for the job.
This season, he's allowed three or more goals only three times in his eight starts, yet his record is a rather pedestrian 4-3-1. Halak has been quite good to open this season, as has his backup, Thomas Greiss. The Islanders need more goals to make the goaltenders' efforts look better, but there are no worries in net to begin this season. Save percentage is the better measure of a goaltender's sharpness and Halak (.928) and Greiss (.927) are both doing well there.
"Every time you win, you take it as it comes," Halak said after the Islanders practiced at the Kings' facility on Wednesday. "It's tough to lose 2-1, 3-2, those close games that are low-scoring. But it's a long season and as long as you feel good, it's going to turn around."
Halak is likely to get the call Thursday night against the Kings. J-F Berube, the Isles' third goaltender who has only played once this season, will not get to face his old team. Halak and Greiss are simply going too well to let Berube crack the lineup.
"They've given us a chance to win every night, and that's all you can ask," Jack Capuano said. "We've been playing well in front of them, too. But they've been good all year and that's what you need."
Halak rebounded from that four-game losing streak last November with a strong outing in Anaheim -- where the Isles finish this current California trip on Friday -- and proceeded to reel off 11 consecutive victories, on his way to a franchise-record 38 wins. That helped erase the slow start he had to his first Islanders season.
This year, he had to come back from a training-camp injury that cost him most of camp and the first four games of the season. But once Halak did get into the flow of things, he's been ready for action once again.
"You probably have to work a little harder when you're injured to get ready for the season," Halak said. "I'm just happy to be playing games, I feel good and you just want the challenge every time you go out there."