Jaroslav Halak is not only back in the NHL, but he's just won a key game for the Islanders. After clearing waivers and being sent to the minors on Dec. 31, he was summoned on Thursday and then on Friday he made 37 saves in regulation time in a 4-3 shootout victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
It's the latest chapter in what has been an up-and-down season for Halak. He struggled mightily earlier this season with a 3.23 GAA and .904 save percentage in 21 contests prior to being demoted. However, the 31-year-old goaltender turned things around in the minors, posting a 2.15 GAA and .925 save percentage to earn this second chance.
The Islanders win on Friday gives them 82 points in 73 games. That technically gives them possession of the second Wild Card spot, though Boston has 82 points as well and control of the ROW tiebreaker, but has played in one more game. The Tampa Bay Lightning won last night, so they're also close behind with 81 points in 74 contests.
The battle for that Wild Card spot could very well be a photo finish, but the Islanders can make life a lot easier on themselves if they find a way to beat Boston tonight.
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ISLANDERS 4 PENGUINS 3 (Shootout)
John Tavares assisted on two of the Islanders' three goals prior to the shootout. He also found the back of the net in the shootout.
Casey Cizikas scored a goal in the second period. The Islanders forward has eight goals and 24 points in 56 contests this season.
Matt Cullen had a goal and an assist for the Penguins. That gives him 11 goals and 27 points in 65 games.
Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 43 of 46 shots prior to the skills competition. However, the Islanders beat him twice in three shootout rounds.
LIGHTNING 2 RED WINGS 1 (Overtime)
Nikita Kucherov scored the overtime winner and registered an assist. He has 38 goals and 78 points in 67 contests this season.
Ondrej Palat accounted for Tampa Bay's other goal. That gives him 15 markers and 42 points in 67 games.
Andrei Vasilevskiy turned aside 29 of 30 shots to snap his three-game losing streak. He has a 18-16-6 record, 2.63 GAA, and .916 save percentage in 43 contests.
Henrik Zetterberg scored the Red Wings' lone marker. It was his 16th goal and 61st point in 73 games.
Petr Mrazek kicked out 30 of 32 Lightning shots. He has a 16-20-8 record, 2.99 GAA, and .901 save percentage in 46 contests.
STARS 6 SHARKS 1
Joe Thornton scored San Jose's only goal. He has seven goals and 49 points in 74 games this season.
Adam Cracknell led the charge for Dallas with a hat trick. That gives him 10 goals and 15 points in 61 games.
Jason Spezza assisted on three of the Stars' six goals. He has 12 goals and 45 points in 60 contests.
Kari Lehtonen stopped 20 of 21 shots last night. He has a 19-22-7 record, 2.82 GAA, and .904 save percentage in 53 games.
Aaron Dell surrendered six goals on 29 shots in his third straight loss. He has a 10-6-1 record, 2.09 GAA, and .928 save percentage in 18 contests.
DUCKS 3 JETS 1
Andrew Cogliano scored the game-winning goal. It was his 15th marker and 32nd point in 74 games.
Jakob Silfverberg netted a goal and registered an assist for Anaheim. He has 21 goals and 44 points in 71 contests.
Josh Morrissey scored the Jets' only goal. The 21-year-old defenseman has six markers and 20 points in 75 games.
Michael Hutchinson kicked out 32 of 34 shots on Friday. He has a 6-12-3 record, 3.06 GAA, and .900 save percentage in 25 contests.
Jonathan Bernier stopped 17 of 18 shots for his third straight win. He has a 17-7-3 record, 2.45 GAA, and .918 save percentage in 34 games.