Islanders looking for better goaltending vs. Jets (Dec 31, 2016)
WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Jaroslav Halak will not be raising a glass to bring in the new year with his New York Islanders' teammates after their game against the Winnipeg Jets Saturday night.
That's because the 31-year-old Slovak was placed on waivers Friday morning following a dismal performance the previous day in a 6-4 loss to the Minnesota Wild. Halak not only surrendered four goals on 24 shots before being pulled, but gave up three goals in the span of 80 seconds in the second period. In fairness to Halak, the Wild are the second-hottest team in the NHL and are riding a 12-game winning streak.
Halak wasn't told of the news until the Islanders landed in Winnipeg early Friday. He returned immediately to New York and is expected to report to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the American Hockey League.
Islanders coach Jack Capuano expressed his displeasure with Halak following Thursday's loss.
"We needed a better effort from Jaro, quite honestly. Four goals on 24 shots isn't going to get it done. Jaro wasn't sharp at all, he gave up some soft goals and we had to battle back," he told reporters.
It's hard to argue that the Islanders need a spark. They're currently last in the Metropolitan Division with a record of 14-15-6 and 15th in the 16-team Eastern Conference.
The Jets could use a little something, too, after a spirited 5-3 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets at the MTS Centre on Thursday. In fairness to them, the Jackets are the hottest team in the league with a 14-game winning streak.
The loss marked the seventh time this season that the Jets were unable to turn a two-game winning streak into a three-game run and that's playing a big part in them sitting outside of the playoff picture.
If they want a glimmer of hope of working toward that goal on the last day of 2016, they should consider getting a start on their New Year's resolutions of improving their specialty teams. The Jets are currently 21st on the power play with a success rate of 16.3 and 27th on the penalty kill (76.5 percent).
The Islanders' visit marks the first meeting of the season between the Jets and their long-time captain, Andrew Ladd, who was signed to a hefty contract as a free agent last summer - seven years for a total of $38.5 million. The Jets shipped Ladd to Chicago prior to last season's trading deadline.
The Jets will be without the player traded for Ladd, winger Marko Dano, who left Thursday's game with a lower-body injury after crashing into the end boards at high speed. He is expected to be out a minimum of several weeks.
"I was not overly optimistic last night and I wasn't any more optimistic this morning but he has to see the doctors," coach Paul Maurice said after practice on Friday.
Halak had a record of 6-8-5 in 21 games this season with a 3.23 goals-against average and a save percentage of .904. In 388 career games with the Montreal Canadiens, St. Louis Blues, Washington Capitals and Islanders, his record is 206-123-42 with a 2.42 GAA and a save percentage of .916.
Halak was acquired from the Capitals in a trade on May 1, 2014. He was subsequently signed to a four-year, $18-million contract that is due to expire at the end of next season.