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Isles don't seem overly concerned about DiPietro

Rehabbing goaltender Rick DiPietro, who experienced leg "tightness'' Friday night and sat out the third period in his second minor-league rehab start, said the discomfort was unrelated to any previous surgeries and that he simply was being careful.

"My understanding is that it wasn't anything severe, but that he was being cautious," Islanders coach Scott Gordon said.

Is Gordon concerned? "If from what I've been told - that he's being on the cautious side - then no,'' he said. "But if it is worse than that, then obviously I would be concerned."

DiPietro, who stopped 13 of 14 shots in two periods for Bridgeport, was expected to undergo evaluation yesterday, after which the Islanders will decide if he still is on track to make his third, and last, rehab start Tuesday in Bridgeport.

General manager Garth Snow reviewed DiPietro's performance Friday night but said he could not comment on the goalie's status until the evaluation.

"He made some great saves, looked extremely mobile, read the play well and handled the puck efficiently,'' Snow said. "As far as the third period, we don't have enough information yet on it for me to make an educated comment.''

Sutton doesn't play

Defenseman Andy Sutton, who suffered a groin strain Nov. 27, was expected to play last night but did not.

Sutton said he felt "pretty close" but wanted to make the best long-term decision and avoid aggravating the injury by returning before he is completely ready.

Finnish forward Jesse Joensuu, who was called up from Bridgeport, saw action for the first time this season.

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