NEWARK -- Nino Niederreiter has been getting work on the Islanders' top line, alongside Matt Moulson and John Tavares, for much of training camp. A 19-year-old rookie cannot afford setbacks in preparing for his first NHL season.
But Niederreiter suffered just such a setback Friday night. He threw a big hit behind the Devils net at the end of the first period and suffered a groin injury. Niederreiter tried to take a shift in the second period, but lasted just long enough to determine he couldn't continue and headed off to the dressing room.
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He'll be evaluated further Saturday, but this is not what the 2010 first-round pick needed in getting ready for a key role among the Islanders' core of young forwards.
Veterans Brian Rolston and Milan Jurcina have been hampered by groin injuries this past week, and Jurcina's injury could leave the door open for a young defenseman like Aaron Ness to stay with the team as the Oct. 8 opener approaches.
The Islanders have one last preseason game Saturday night in Bridgeport, Conn., against the Bruins. Then comes a week of practice and separating out the NHL squad from the AHL one.
Coach Jack Capuano and his staff were trying to see if Niederreiter and his physical style could add a new element to the Moulson-Tavares pair.
Friday night, Niederreiter wasn't with those two, but he was still physical and trying to generate some offense in an Islanders preseason lineup without much scoring punch.
Blake Comeau and Josh Bailey, two mainstays the last few seasons, have struggled to get their offensive games going through the first three preseason games, and both had their struggles again Friday night against the Devils. Bailey had a terrific scoring chance shorthanded in the second period and got Devils goaltender Johan Hedberg down and out of position, but hooked a shot wide of a yawning net.
Rick DiPietro played all 60 minutes in goal and was sharp once again in his second preseason outing, stopping 20 of 21 shots in the 1-0 Devils win. Capuano said before the game that Evgeni Nabokov and Al Montoya would split the goaltending duties Saturday.
Notes & quotes: D Steve Staios, in camp on a tryout, signed a one-year, $800,000 contract, with a chance to earn another $800,000 in bonuses . . . First-round pick Ryan Strome was ejected for a boarding major in the final minutes of the game.