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Michael Grabner ready to return, but Islanders can't fit him in

Michael Grabner of the Islanders tries to control

Michael Grabner of the Islanders tries to control the puck during the first period against Luke Schenn of the Philadelphia Flyers. (Oct. 26, 2013) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

CALGARY, Alberta - Michael Grabner skated with his Islanders teammates Friday morning, but again there was no room for him to return.

The Islanders are 7-1-1 in their last nine games after Friday night's 2-1 victory over the Flames, and Grabner -- still on his second injured reserve stint because of some lingering pain from his October hernia surgery -- wasn't active.

Jack Capuano said Grabner has been pain-free since early in the week, but the Islanders aren't ready to put someone on waivers to make room for Grabner on the 23-man roster, nor will they remove a forward from the productive lineup.

Grabner scored two goals in five games from Dec. 4-13 in his initial return from surgery, but the Islanders put him back on injured reserve Dec. 17.

Scratches

Eric Boulton, Brian Strait and Matt Donovan were the healthy scratches. Matt Carkner (back surgery) is along on this road trip to get in some rehab work.

'Johnny Hockey' shines

Flames rookie center Johnny Gaudreau, 21, earned the NHL rookie of the month award for December. The New Jersey product is second among all rookies with 31 points and scored for the Flames in the third period.

Gaudreau also has a bit of an Islanders connection: The 5-9 speedster signed a letter of intent to play for Greg Cronin at Northeastern, but Cronin left to take an assistant coaching job with the Maple Leafs (he now is an Islanders assistant coach). Gaudreau instead went to Boston College and won an NCAA championship as a freshman and the Hobey Baker Award as college MVP as a junior before turning pro.

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