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Halak, Canadiens shut out Islanders

(AP) — Jaroslav Halak picked up where he left off at home a year ago. Halak stopped 30 shots for his first NHL shutout of the season as the Montreal Canadiens posted a 3-0 win over the New York Islanders on Saturday night.

Halak, who was 15-10-2 with two shutotus in 28 AHL appearances for the Hamilton Bulldogs in 2007-08, earned his third career NHL shutout in his first home start of the season. He still ranks third in the AHL in goals-against average (2.10) and second in save percentage (.929).

Halak went 7-0 with two shutouts at the Bell Centre as a rookie last season.

"I’ve been looking forward to this game because it’s been almost a year since my last game at home," Halak said. "It was really amazing. They are very good fans and they were cheering for us all game long."

Montreal, which has nine games remaining, took over the Northeast Division lead with 89 points, two more than idle Ottawa.

"I thought it was pretty solid and, obviously, Jaro played great," Canadiens left wing Chris Higgins said. "We were all pretty psyched for him after the game about the shutout, and it was the kind of effort we needed after the Ottawa game."

The Canadiens, who lost 3-0 to the Senators on Thursday, have two left against Ottawa, which has played one fewer game.

Halak was recalled from Hamilton of the AHL at the trade deadline to back up rookie Carey Price when Montreal traded Cristobal Huet to Washington.

"He made saves when he had to make them," Islanders captain Bill Guerin said. "We did have some quality chances and he made some big saves. I would have liked to see us execute our rushes a little better, but we had 30 shots. It’s just frustrating."

The 22-year-old Slovak is 2-0 in four games with the Canadiens this season, including a 35-save outing one week earlier in his first start of the season, a 5-2 win in Los Angeles. He is 12-6 overall in 20 career games with Montreal.