Jaroslav Halak certainly was honest after a long afternoon at Barclays Center. He made 21 of his 42 saves in the opening period — the shots on goal were 15-1 for the Devils just 6:06 into the game — and after going 5-for-5 in the shootout to grab his 224th career win, the veteran goaltender spoke the truth.
“I’m pretty tired right now,” he said after the Islanders’ 5-4 win over the Devils.
Halak has started eight of the last nine games and faced at least 35 shots in every one of them, topped by Sunday’s 46 shots.
He got some help. A goal by the Devils’ Kyle Palmieri at 2:22 of the first period was waved off because Palmieri had bumped Halak, a call that was confirmed via review. Three of the five Devils didn’t record an official shot in the shootout, capped by Brian Gibbons hitting the post in the fifth round.
“Really aggressive, confident effort and we’re feeling it from him,” coach Doug Weight said. “The results haven’t been there, a really tough two weeks, but this is a big one going into the break. We’re starting to feel Jaro’s presence on a daily basis and that’s really good.”
The numbers are still ugly for Halak, whose even-strength save percentage (.919) and overall save percentage (.906) are in the bottom third for goaltenders with at least 20 starts.
“We need to find a way to keep winning games and play a little better,” he said. “We need to get back to Islander hockey.”
Bound for Bridgeport
Despite playing a big role in Sunday’s win, Sebastian Aho, Anthony Beauvillier and Tanner Fritz were returned to AHL Bridgeport after the game.
With the Isles on break until they practice Friday and the Sound Tigers able to practice and having games Wednesday and Friday, all three young players will be able to keep playing while the veterans rest.
Beauvillier had two goals in Friday’s overtime loss by Bridgeport, his first two AHL goals.