WINNIPEG, Canada -- Evgeni Nabokov seemed ready to play in his first game in nearly a month last week. He had practiced for a few days and Al Montoya was in need of a break.

But Nabokov's groin injury still was nagging him, so rookie Kevin Poulin got the emergency recall and start in Thursday's 3-2 home loss to Dallas.

With three games in the next four nights, however, beginning with Tuesday night's game against the Jets, Nabokov will be needed. But is he ready?

"I'm getting there," he said after practice at MTS Centre, where a raucous crowd awaits the Islanders in Winnipeg's first season back in the NHL since 1995-96. "You just need to be smart with these type of injuries. You feel good, you practice a little bit and come out the next day and there's something there."

There's nothing there now, he said, or at least nothing that would keep him from playing either Tuesday night, Thursday at Madison Square Garden or Friday at home against Toronto. Despite the roster freeze that went into effect at midnight, the Islanders still could call up a goaltender on an emergency basis for one of these games.

"With that many games, we're not just going with one goalie," Jack Capuano said. "We'll have to see how everyone's feeling."

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Capuano has only one spare player with the team right now, defenseman Mark Eaton, so it doesn't seem as though there will be any lineup changes for Tuesday night. What he might change are the line combinations, saying he might swap Nino Niederreiter and Tim Wallace at right wing on the bottom two lines, putting Niederreiter with David Ullstrom and Josh Bailey and Wallace with Matt Martin and Marty Reasoner, a line that had a couple of effective games.

"The top two lines are set,'' Capuano said, "and we need to get some secondary scoring from those other lines."

Notes & quotes: Defenseman Travis Hamonic will have about 50 friends and family that he knows of in the arena Tuesday night for his first NHL game in his hometown.