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Jaroslav Halak stonewalls Devils in Islanders' win

The New York Islanders celebrate after defeating the

The New York Islanders celebrate after defeating the New Jersey Devils at Nassau Coliseum on Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014 in Uniondale, New York. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Jaroslav Halak was brought in to be the Islanders' No. 1 goaltender, a position that had been lacking for many years.

But he hasn't been just the Isles' top choice in goal, he's been Mr. November.

Halak stonewalled the Devils at the Coliseum during a lopsided third period Saturday night, making 16 of his 34 saves in the final 20 minutes in the Islanders' 3-1 win, their 11th in the month and Halak's ninth straight victory, one shy of Billy Smith's franchise record.

"I don't really look at that," Halak said. "I just go game-by- game, try to have fun and try to get the two points for the guys."

The guys, who looked a little fatigued in the final 20 minutes with a 2-1 lead in their sixth game in nine days, also stood strong in the final 3:10. After Brock Nelson went off for holding a stick to give the Devils a late power play, Calvin de Haan went to the box for taking down Jaromir Jagr 1:06 later, giving the Devils a 55-second five-on-three in the waning minutes.

But the Devils got only one shot on Halak during the two-man advantage, with Thomas Hickey laying out to make two of the 26 blocked shots by the Islanders on the night.

The Islanders had dropped back to last in the league on the penalty kill after allowing the Caps to score three power-play goals in four opportunities in the previous two games. But the Isles were 4-for-4 Saturday night, including those last two before Casey Cizikas snapped one into an empty net with 4.1 seconds to play.

"We had the desperation in front of the net," said Cal Clutterbuck, whose point shot clicked off de Haan's skate and past Cory Schneider to break a 1-1 tie 3:32 into the second. "Our D-zone coverage wasn't breaking down a whole lot."

And when it did, Halak was in position. He was, in the words of the goalie coaches, "quiet" in goal -- not many exaggerated movements. Especially in the hectic third period, Halak was able to smother a lot of shots to keep the frenzy in front of him to a minimum.

"He was like Velcro out there. Everything stuck to him," said de Haan, who blocked a team-high five shots and undressed Jagr to set up his own shot that became Clutterbuck's eventual winner. "You know they're going to make plays and get opportunities. When we've got a goalie like Jaro to back us up and make those saves, it's huge."

The Islanders finished off this grueling stretch 5-1-0, with Halak picking up four of those wins. He's allowed only 11 goals in his nine-game run, posting three shutouts.

That's a far cry from the start to his Islanders career, when he allowed 16 goals in his first five starts and sat for a short stretch behind Chad Johnson.

"It's always fun when you're winning games," Halak said.

For the Isles, now 10 games over .500 as the calendar turns to December, there is plenty of fun. Even in tense games like Saturday night's, a game that surely gave the majority of the 16,170 great anxiety as the Devils pressed for the tying goal.

But they didn't get it -- thanks to the new No. 1 goaltender.

New York Sports