Milan Jurcina finally gets to play

The Islanders' Milan Jurcina, right, battles against Erik

The Islanders' Milan Jurcina, right, battles against Erik Condra of the Senators during the first period of a 2011 game. (Feb. 15, 2011) Photo Credit: MCT

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PITTSBURGH -- After using the same six defensemen for the first seven games of the season, Jack Capuano had a healthy Milan Jurcina available Thursday night and decided to make a switch.

Jurcina (groin) went in the lineup and Mike Mottau, who had played well on the third pair with Mark Eaton, was a healthy scratch.

"We have seven good NHL defensemen, and I'm the odd man out tonight," Mottau said. "It's important to be ready, whether it's next game or five games from now. You never want to be out of the lineup, but you still want the team to win, obviously."

Jurcina missed 36 games with a variety of injuries last season, including hamstring and groin problems. He suffered a groin injury in Calgary on Sept. 27 and hadn't returned to practicing fully until last week.

This is unknown territory for Capuano, who barely had six healthy bodies on defense last season, much less players with experience.

Choosing Mottau was simply strategic for now, allowing for all three pairs of defensemen to have left- and right-shooting players.

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"Mike has played extremely well,'' Capuano said. "It's not a reflection on him."

Nabokov starts againEvgeni Nabokov made his third consecutive start despite suffering losses in his previous two games. Capuano said he wasn't looking beyond the game to map out a starting rotation, even though the Sharks, for whom Nabokov played for 10 seasons, come to the Coliseum Saturday. Rick DiPietro could make his first start in that game. Said Capuano, "Nabby's played really well the last two games, that's all there is to it."

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