With Evgeni Nabokov hurt, Islanders sign a backup goalie

Evgeni Nabokov of the New York Islanders is

Evgeni Nabokov of the New York Islanders is seen during the second period against the Toronto Maple Leafs. (Dec. 23, 2011) (Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke)

The Islanders are in yet another goaltending quandary. With only six games left in the season this latest round of "Who's in net?" isn't quite as damaging as it has been the past few years.

Evgeni Nabokov is officially listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury that caused him to leave Tuesday night's 5-3 win in Pittsburgh after two periods. It's believed that Nabokov, who missed a month with a groin injury suffered in late November, has had a minor recurrence of that problem.

But even a minor groin injury to the presumed No. 1 goaltender for next season is enough to consider that Nabokov, who got credit for the win on Tuesday and is now 19-18-3 on the season, might not play another game in 2011-12. If he needs a week to recover, that would leave only two games, and it may not be worth the risk to put the 36-year-old back in net.

Another sign that Nabokov may be done for the year: The Isles have agreed to terms on a pro-rated, one-year deal with John Grahame, a former backup for the Bruins, Lightning and Hurricanes who last played in the NHL in 2007-08 and was coaching in the U.S. Hockey League this season.

The Isles have recalled Kevin Poulin to join Al Montoya for tonight's game, but with Anders Nilsson (ankle sprain) out, the organization wants Poulin to play in Bridgeport, a team that's headed for the postseason. Grahame, 36, will back up Montoya the rest of the Isles season, with the team's tragic number down to a single point.

Rick DiPietro has been skating on his own for nearly a month now in his recovery from a sports hernia, but it's believed the Islanders are not interested in putting DiPietro into a game before the season ends.

Montoya came into a similar situation last February, when the desperate Islanders acquired him from the Coyotes for a sixth-round draft pick. Dwayne Roloson had been traded the previous month and Poulin and DiPietro were hurt; Montoya came in and played well enough to earn a one-year deal to be in the mix this season.

Notes & quotes: F David Ullstrom (upper body) skated with his teammates and could play Thursday night. If not, Nino Niederreiter goes back into the lineup.

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