Less than 48 hours after playing his first full rehab game in the American Hockey League, Islanders goaltender Rick DiPietro surrendered four goals on 39 shots in Bridgeport's 4-3 loss at Worcester Sunday.
It remains unclear why the Islanders declined to divulge any information regarding DiPietro's latest start, but his performance indicated he still is not ready to return to the NHL.
DiPietro is 1-2-0 with 11 goals against and an .883 save percentage in four rehab appearances with Bridgeport.
In his quickest turnaround since appearing in back-to-back games in March 2008, DiPietro allowed two goals within one minute midway through the first period at the DCU Center. Worcester's Benn Ferriero scored on the power play at 10:37 of the first and Cory Quirk scored on an even-strength deflection 57 seconds later.
Peppered with shots early, DiPietro looked much sharper for most of the second period. He robbed T.J. Trevelyan twice, with a glove save on a breakaway and from point-blank range about three minutes later.
With 2:24 remaining in the second period, Trevelyan's shot from the left circle squirted through DiPietro's pads and Dwight Helminen swept the puck past the goal line, giving Worcester a 3-1 lead.
DiPietro let in his most questionable goal of the day at 1:19 of the third period when Trevelyan, who finished with a goal and two assists, circled behind the net and beat him five-hole with relative ease for a 4-1 lead.
Although DiPietro faced a barrage of shots throughout the first two periods and made several quality saves, the last two goals he allowed could be an indication that his stamina still needs improvement.
DiPietro is on his second conditioning assignment of the season, a two-week stint that began when the Islanders sent him to Bridgeport this past Thursday.
During his second rehab game Dec. 11, DiPietro was unable to finish the game, sitting out the third period because of leg tightness. The discomfort also forced him to miss what originally was scheduled to be his third and final rehab start Dec. 15.
DiPietro subsequently underwent medical evaluation by team doctors and additional specialists before receiving medical clearance to play.
It is unknown how many games the Islanders want him to play at the AHL level before targeting an NHL return, but DiPietro said this past week that he won't come back until completely ready.
"I'm not going to put the team's chance to win in jeopardy just because I want to play," he said Tuesday. "I like to think I'm a little smarter than that now."