Islanders-Maple Leafs Preview
Jaroslav Halak was key to the New York Islanders' success on their recent road trip, but his potential absence isn't troubling coach Jack Capuano.
With Halak nursing an unknown injury, the Islanders go for their longest winning streak of the season Wednesday night when they visit the NHL-worst Toronto Maple Leafs.
Halak went 4-1-0 with a 1.79 goals-against average and one shutout during New York's 6-1-0 trip and was impressive again Tuesday, making 31 saves in a 2-1 home win over Pittsburgh that moved the Islanders to 11-2-1 in their last 14.
Halak, though, left with 4:22 to play and was replaced by Thomas Greiss, who stopped all three shots he faced.
"We don't have an update. Hopefully we'll know a little bit more where he stands," Capuano said.
With 18 games left and the Islanders (37-20-7) third in the Metropolitan Division, having a healthy Halak ready for the playoffs will be important since Greiss has never started a postseason game. Jean-Francois Berube, third on the depth chart, has played three games in the NHL.
"I got confidence if he does miss some time," Capuano said. "We got some quality goalies here so if we run into a situation, hopefully it's not too long a period that he's out, but we got confidence in the guys that we have here."
Greiss is 7-0-1 with a 2.24 GAA and .925 save percentage in his last 10 games. He's 8-3-0 on the road behind a 2.30 GAA and .930 save percentage, winning his last two starts.
Greiss split a home-and-home set with the Maple Leafs (21-33-11) from Dec. 27-29. He had 30 saves in a 6-3 win at Toronto in the second of those contests.
John Tavares, a native of nearby Mississauga, had a goal and assist in that matchup. The All-Star center has 19 points in 12 visits to Toronto, including seven in the past three.
He enters this one with 23 points in 22 games after scoring his ninth goal over that stretch Tuesday.
Tavares will now try to help the Islanders win five straight for the first time since Nov. 18-26, 2014.
The Maple Leafs are 2-11-2 in their last 15 and have lost six straight following a 4-3 shootout defeat to Buffalo on Monday, their fifth in a row by one goal.
A far greater blow to Toronto is the loss of defenseman Matt Hunwick for the rest of the season due to sports hernia surgery. The injury, however, gives the Leafs a chance to evaluate Frank Corrado and Connor Carrick in preparation for next season.
"Someone else gets a real good opportunity here," coach Mike Babcock said. "If you're Frankie or Connor, it's a chance to show what you got. These kids are getting real good looks."
Babcock also said Martin Marincin will be moved to the top defensive pairing with Morgan Reilly.
"I think the biggest thing for us is just figuring out what we have," Babcock said. "As much as you want to make good decisions on who you acquire and who you add to your lineup, you better make good decisions on the people that are here."
Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau will be back from an upper-body injury that kept him out five games, but his long-term availability is in question since he's scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent this summer. The right wing has five points in five games against the Islanders since playing with them from 2010-12.