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Islanders notebook: Halak skating, but not ready to return

Jaroslav Halak gets a glove on the puck

Jaroslav Halak gets a glove on the puck at the Islanders practice at iceworks in Syosset, New York on May 2, 2016. Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

Jaroslav Halak has been skating for a few weeks as he returns to health from a serious groin injury suffered March 8. There appears to be no rush for him to return, though, with Thomas Greiss playing well in net heading into Game 3 against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night.

“Obviously, it was bad timing for me to get injured, but I’m just trying to work my way back to the lineup and back to the bench,” Halak said after yesterday’s practice in which he shared a net with backup J-F Berube.

The Islanders have no plans to use Halak as the backup just yet, given that he hasn’t played since leaving that game nearly two months ago in the closing minutes of a 2-1 win over the Penguins. Greiss brings a .937 playoff save percentage into Tuesday night’s game, so it would take an extreme meltdown for Jack Capuano to consider using another goaltender.

“It’s always hard just to watch the guys from the press box or from home and not be able to help,” Halak said. “But I think they’ve done a good job, and obviously now I’m just trying to get back. We’ll see. Just take it day by day right now. That’s all I can do. Hopefully, I’ll be back soon.”

Bailey, Pulock close

Josh Bailey and Ryan Pulock, who have missed the first two games with upper-body injuries, practiced and could be ready to return to action.

“I felt good the last few days, been progressing where I need to be,” said Bailey, who did not travel to Tampa last week. “See how it is tomorrow, but as long as I keep feeling the same way, should be good.”

If ready, Pulock likely would take Marek Zidlicky’s spot on defense. For Bailey to play, a forward would have to sit. That could be a tougher decision.

“He’s an experienced guy,” Capuano said of Bailey. “He’s got 500 or more games, and this time of year, you need experience.”

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