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Islanders goaltender Jaroslav Halak comes off IR, could start Monday night

New York Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak makes a

New York Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak makes a stick save against the Ottawa Senators in the second period of an NHL game at Nassau Coliseum on Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Chad Johnson had his turn. So did Kevin Poulin. The Islanders didn't get enough good things out of their No. 2 and No. 3 goaltenders the past two games, which could be worrisome in the long run.

Most important, however, is getting the No. 1 goaltender back to full health and back in net. Jaroslav Halak took a couple of big steps toward that goal, coming off injured reserve and going through a full practice Sunday after missing the past two games with a lower-body injury.

"We just wanted to give him a little extra time, and the break was a good time to be able to do that," Jack Capuano said after the Islanders practiced at IceWorks in preparation for Monday night's game against the streaking Capitals. "He had a real good practice and he seems to be ready to go."

Halak was on a roll just over a week ago, playing his first back-to-back games and allowing only a goal in each of them, a 2-1 win over the Red Wings in Detroit followed by a 3-1 win over the Lightning at the Coliseum.

But Halak, who missed significant time two seasons ago with a groin injury, was unable to practice fully last Monday and Johnson got the call Tuesday, with Poulin recalled on an emergency basis to back up.

Johnson allowed three goals on 21 shots in a 3-1 loss to Montreal. After the three-day holiday break, Halak traveled to Buffalo with his teammates on Saturday but still wasn't ready to play, prompting the IR designation and another emergency recall of Poulin, who had a 34-save shutout for AHL Bridgeport on Friday.

Capuano went to Poulin, who was good enough through two periods but gave up three goals on three Sabres shots as the Islanders coughed up a 3-0 lead in a 4-3 shootout loss. That wasn't all on Poulin, but he wasn't strong enough when it mattered.

"I thought they had good chances on their goals," Poulin said Saturday. "I thought I played pretty good."

But not well enough to stick around; Poulin was sent back to Bridgeport after Halak was activated off IR.

Halak has allowed more than two goals in a game only three times in his past 17 starts. The other two Islanders goalies have allowed more than two goals in six consecutive starts in that same span.

So the Islanders certainly will be enthused if Halak is ready to go Monday night.

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