Jeff Tambellini replaced Nate Thompson in the Islanders' lineup last night against Columbus. Tambellini, who sat out the previous nine games as a healthy scratch, made his first appearance since Dec. 9 in Toronto. Thompson, a fourth-line grinder, is out 1-2 weeks with a shoulder injury.

Despite having the team's only hat trick this season - Oct. 31 against Buffalo - Tambellini has struggled to produce consistently. After an impressive six-game stretch in which he had eight points (six goals and two assists), Tambellini has scored only one goal since Halloween. He had two shots on goal in 12:27 last night and he shot wide on a shootout attempt.

 

DP: Knee responding

Rehabbing goaltender Rick DiPietro said he is feeling well after the past two days of practice and looking forward to his return to game action in the AHL.

The Islanders are targeting this weekend for DiPietro's next rehab start for Bridgeport. DiPietro has not played since Dec. 11, when he sat out the third period of his second rehab start because of tightness in his leg.

"I feel great and I'm looking forward to getting in a game," DiPietro said. "It's exciting. How this process works is to see how my knee responds to activity, and so far, it has responded well."

DiPietro said he will not return to the Islanders until he feels 100-percent healthy and confident he can help the team. "I'm not going to put the team's chance to win in jeopardy just because I want to play," DiPietro said. "I like to think I'm a little smarter than that now."

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Weight closer to return

Doug Weight, who has not played since suffering a shoulder injury Nov. 6, skated with the team Tuesday. Weight will practice again Wednesday before coach Scott Gordon decides if he is ready for tomorrow's game.