Islander goalie Evgeni Nabokov. (Oct. 15, 2011)

Islander goalie Evgeni Nabokov. (Oct. 15, 2011) Credit: David Pokress

Evgeni Nabokov hadn't played in the NHL since May 23, 2010, but he didn't show much rust in getting his 294th career victory and first with the Islanders in Saturday night's 4-2 win over the Rangers.

"I wasn't surprised. If you prepare the same way all the time, you know what to expect," said Nabokov, who made 29 saves.

Jack Capuano decided to go with Nabokov although Al Montoya allowed only four goals in the first three games, but it paid off. Nabokov looked very comfortable in goal against a persistent Rangers attack.

It was a long road for the 36-year-old. After finishing a decade with the Sharks, he signed with SKA St. Petersburg in the summer of 2010, then was bought out and signed a pro-rated one-year deal with the Wings in January. The Islanders claimed him off waivers and Nabokov refused to report, then had his contract tolled so the Islanders could hold on to his rights for another season.

A Long Island dinner in April with GM Garth Snow smoothed things over and Nabokov came to training camp ready to go. "Sometimes life gives you a bunch of surprises," Nabokov said. "You just got to move forward."

Comeau scratched

Blake Comeau has had some memorable games against the Rangers in his four NHL seasons, with 11 of his 56 career goals coming against the Islanders' rival.

Last night probably was a memorable one, too, but for the wrong reason. Comeau was a healthy scratch, with Trevor Gillies taking Comeau's spot. Gillies was activated off injured reserve after missing the first three games with a groin injury.

Comeau had 24 goals in 77 games last season and began to establish himself as a quality scoring threat. He signed a one-year, $2.5-million deal just hours before his arbitration hearing this summer and began the season on a line with Josh Bailey and Brian Rolston.

But Comeau had just one shot on goal through three games and, with Gillies healthy, Capuano made the switch. DiPietro working off iceRick DiPietro, out indefinitely with a concussion, rode a stationary bike and said he had no ill effects.

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