Al Montoya will make his third straight start in goal, and with Evgeni Nabokov (groin) nowhere close to returning and Rick DiPietro coming off a shaky game last week, Montoya appears to be the clear No. 1 netminder.
Kudos to Montoya, whose 2.20 GAA and .929 save percentage would look good for any team, for staying consistent after making the first three starts of the season and then sitting out while Jack Capuano tried to get the other two goaltenders going.
"I knew the situation coming in, and it wasn't pretty," Montoya said this morning. "But this is the NHL, it's where I've always wanted to play and I had to prove I belonged here. Every time I'm in goal, I try to take full advantage and play each game like it's my last."
Buffalo is where Montoya played his first game as an Islander, on Feb. 13 -- his 26th birthday. Montoya had been acquired days earlier from the Coyotes, came on in relief of Mikko Koskinen after two periods and got the win in a wild 7-6 overtime victory.
Beginning with that appearance, Montoya is 12-8-6 with a 2.34 GAA and .929 save percentage as an Islander.
Nino Niederreiter was already back in for tonight's game with the Sabres. Capuano said Marty Reasoner will go back in as well, with Micheal Haley sitting. Capuano wants David Ullstrom to remain on the wing and on a line with Josh Bailey and Brian Rolston; that trio produced a goal and was effective in spots on Saturday.
Reasoner will skate between Matt Martin and Niederreiter to start.
Capuano also said he and Garth Snow will huddle after tonight's game to determine whether the team will bring a defenseman up from Bridgeport. The Islanders have been going with six D for a week now, since Mark Eaton went on IR.
"I like having competition, no question," Capuano said. More senior players like Dylan Reese (2-10-12 in 21 games for the Sound Tigers) or Ty Wishart are likely to be called up over pro rookies Aaron Ness or Calvin de Haan.
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