DiPietro takes shot to mask in practice

Rick DiPietro talks with reporters at the Nassau

Rick DiPietro talks with reporters at the Nassau Coliseum on the day the Islander cleaned out their lockers. (April 10, 2011) (Credit: Ed Betz)

Rick DiPietro didn't get to play either of the Islanders' first two games, but he was happy to have been healthy through training camp and the first week of the season.

One errant practice shot Wednesday, however, may have thrown all that work and good health into question. Brian Rolston's slap shot caught DiPietro in the mask right at his temple, denting the goaltender's head protection and sending him off the ice quickly.

"The puck kind of rolled up on edge before [Rolston] shot it, and it kind of caught Ricky right in the crosshairs," Jack Capuano said. "He seemed to be doing all right."

DiPietro was to be evaluated late Wednesday and the team will have an update this morning, with the Islanders facing the Lightning Thursday night at Nassau Coliseum.

Despite Al Montoya starting each of the first two games -- he allowed only three goals and appeared to be on track to start again Thursday night -- DiPietro had been positive and open-minded about the three-goaltender competition that went through training camp and culminated in Capuano naming Montoya the opening night starter on Saturday.

"It's a long season," DiPietro said last weekend, after finding out Montoya was starting the opener. "There'll be opportunities"

DiPietro's possible injury highlights the only good side of having three goaltenders on the roster. Evgeni Nabokov has not yet dressed for a game, though he may get his chance Thursday night.

"I don't really think about it like that," Capuano said. "You never want anyone to get hurt like this."

DiPietro's has played only 39 games the last three seasons because of an assortment of hip, knee and facial surgeries, the last coming in February to repair broken bones suffered in a fight with Penguins goaltender Brent Johnson.

To be able to return from that injury, which left him with a metal plate in his face, DiPietro switched back to a 1980s, cage-style mask.

He took a couple shots off the mask in his preseason debut in Boston, but Wednesday's shot caught him much more flush.

Notes & quotes: Capuano said he hasn't decided to shuffle his forward lines after the Isles scored in just one of their first six periods. "I have confidence in the lines we've started the season with," he said, "but that can change, even between periods of a game. We'll have to see."

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