Islanders goaltender Jaroslav Halak came up short Sunday in his first attempt at breaking the franchise record for wins in a season, as the Isles were shut out, 4-0, by the visiting Vancouver Canucks.
But after sitting out the Islanders' last game, a 5-1 win Tuesday against the Arizona Coyotes, the Isles' No. 1 goalie figures to get a second chance to break the record (32 wins) he shares with Bill Smith and Chris Osgood when the Isles host the Calgary Flames Friday night at Nassau Coliseum. It doesn't figure to be an easy task against a Calgary team that currently holds a one-point lead over the Minnesota Wild and a two-point lead over the San Jose Sharks for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
"It would be nice," Halak said on Thursday of breaking the record. "But [the Flames] have a good team. They've been playing really good lately and they are desperate to get the points, so it'll be a tough matchup."
With 20 games left in the season, even if Halak (32-13-0, 2.49 goals-against average, four shutouts) doesn't break the record Friday night, it's pretty much a foregone conclusion he will.
"I think it speaks volumes for how good he is, and some of the success that we've had as a group this season so far," defenseman Travis Hamonic said. "And a huge chunk of what we've done as a group is thanks to Jaro, so I think they kind of go hand in hand, a little bit. For us as a group, we're really excited for him."
Managing Halak's ice time as the Islanders try to hold on and win the Metropolitan Division will be a challenge for coach Jack Capuano. With 45 games played already, Halak is on pace to start a career-high 60 games.
"As we move forward, we'll manage the minutes, making sure that he's well rested, because that's the one thing you don't want to do -- you don't want to overwork a guy," Capuano said.
Notes & quotes: Frans Nielsen did not skate at practice. Capuano called it "a maintenance day" for him.