CALGARY - Backup goalie Nathan Lawson was spectacular in relief in securing his first NHL victory, and John Tavares and Matt Moulson scored two goals each last night as the Islanders beat the Flames, 5-2, for their sixth win in seven games. But it did not come without a cost.
Two days after the Islanders traded veteran netminder Dwayne Roloson to Tampa Bay, goaltender Rick DiPietro went down in the second period with a groin strain. DiPietro's injury doesn't seem to be serious; he said after the game, "It was a little tweak and I'll be back as soon as possible.'' But the worrisome moment revealed a larger issue of concern: General manager Garth Snow took a big risk trading Roloson, especially given DiPietro's injury history.
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Islanders coach Jack Capuano said an emergency backup goaltender likely will be called up as a precaution because of the length of this road trip.
When asked if he thinks he will play again on the trip, DiPietro said: "It's how I feel when I wake up, and what the trainers say. Then we'll go from there.''
Powered by two goals each from Tavares and Moulson, the Islanders built a 4-1 lead early in the second period. But they suffered a blow when DiPietro left the game 5:40 into the period.
With the Flames trailing by three goals, DiPietro faced a flurry of shots. After turning aside two straight attempts by Jarome Iginla, he appeared to over-extend himself and was slow to get up, prompting head trainer Garrett Timms to rush onto the ice.
"I don't think a man's body is supposed to bend in those sort of ways,'' DiPietro joked.
DiPietro, who recently returned from a short stint on injured reserve because of swelling in his left knee, appeared for a moment as if he would remain in the game, but after a second consult from Timms, he skated toward the bench. Said DiPietro, "Sometimes as a player, you have to be saved from yourself.''
Calgary native Lawson, recalled from Bridgeport Sunday morning after the Islanders traded Roloson, replaced DiPietro and was impressive in his second NHL appearance, stopping 28 of 29 shots. "It was awesome,'' he said. "That's all I can say.''
He added, "It was real unfortunate I had to go in like that, especially to a good friend of mine, but I was just trying to hold the fort and get us a win. That's all that mattered.''
If DiPietro's injury develops into something serious, the Islanders do have an attractive option. Although it is believed that Snow had no intention of claiming Flyers goalie Michael Leighton - placed on waivers Monday - that stance may have changed once DiPietro left the game.
Leighton, who helped lead the Flyers to their Stanley Cup run last season, is signed through 2012 at $1.55 million per year.
Given DiPietro's extensive injury history, Lawson was asked before the game if he felt comfortable handling the bulk of the workload should something happen to DiPietro. That proved prescient when Lawson was forced into the game cold.
"I have to be confident I can do that," Lawson said. "I really, really hope it doesn't come down to that. I hope he has the best of luck and hope that he can finish the season strong and prove to everyone he's healthy and able to be a top goalie in this league."
Snow's trade of Roloson - one of the team's most consistent players in a very volatile season - aroused suspicion that the general manager already was looking ahead to next season. The Islanders entered the Calgary game in 14th place in the Eastern Conference, 17 points removed from the eighth spot.
But Snow insisted he has confidence in Lawson, and the backup goalie backed up those feelings Monday night.