Rick DiPietro on deck for his first start

Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro during training camp at

Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro during training camp at Nassau Coliseum. (Sept. 21, 2010) (Credit: John Dunn)

The Islanders' goaltending rotation has spun toward Rick DiPietro, finally. The longtime Islander appears set to make his 2011-12 debut -- as a starter, anyway -- Saturday night.

A day after DiPietro's surprising shootout appearance in Pittsburgh, he was on the ice for practice at IceWorks along with Al Montoya.

Evgeni Nabokov was seeing a doctor after suffering what he called a lower-body injury in the first period against the Penguins.

Jack Capuano said Nabokov is day-to-day. "I don't think you'll see him out on the ice the next day or two," the coach said.

Nabokov toughed it out through three periods and overtime, making 30 saves, but Capuano called for DiPietro for the shootout. He was beaten once, but that was enough to cost the Islanders a point. DiPietro will be ready for a more conventional appearance Saturday night when the Sharks come to the Coliseum.

"It was definitely weird, especially for your first action, but it's great, man," DiPietro said. "You get a chance to be the hero after we've lost a couple games . . . I got to find out how Mariano Rivera feels."

Jokes aside, DiPietro was primed for this season more than any in a long while, given that he'd had his first healthy summer and training camp since 2007.

But a shot to the mask on Oct. 12 left him with a concussion, costing him a chance to start the following night. He recovered quickly, though, and was backing up for the fourth time in eight games this season Thursday when Nabokov needed to come out.

"I believe he's ready now. He's focused, he's healthy and he'll get his opportunity here shortly," Capuano said of DiPietro. He won't name a goaltender until Saturday morning, but with Montoya in street clothes the last two games, DiPietro's time seems to have come.

"This is what you put in all the hard work for," DiPietro said. "The concussion was a setback, but it's behind me now. It'll be a good opportunity to give the knees and everything a real game."

Notes & quotes:RW Nino Niederreiter (groin) participated in part of the practice, his first spin on the ice with the full group since he suffered his injury Sept. 30. Niederreiter still is a few days away from fully practicing and likely 10 days away from being ready to play his first game this season.

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