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Patient Radek Martinek finally gets the call

New York Islanders defenseman Radek Martinek skates during

New York Islanders defenseman Radek Martinek skates during training camp at Nassau Coliseum. (Sept. 16, 2013) Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

PITTSBURGH - Radek Martinek didn't have any grand plans other than to skate with the Islanders -- despite not having a contract -- and wait to see what happened.

Well, a few things happened during the past seven days, and here is Martinek, at 37, back in an Islanders uniform and straight into the lineup Friday night against the Penguins.

"My priority was to stay in North America, so I didn't really think about other choices," said Martinek, who is from the Czech Republic but has lived on Long Island with his family since his first tour of duty with the Isles, which began in 2001.

First, Lubomir Visnovsky suffered a concussion last Saturday, leaving the Isles with six healthy defensemen outside of Martinek. Then Brian Strait went down with an upper-body injury. Rather than pull Calvin de Haan or Aaron Ness up from Bridgeport for what likely would be a quick stay, general manager Garth Snow signed Martinek to a $600,000 deal.

"It was a chance for me, I guess," said Martinek, who played his 467th game in an Islanders uniform Friday night, 27th in franchise history.

Even when Strait and Visnovsky return, Martinek likely will stay. Snow and Jack Capuano prefer to have eight defensemen and 13 forwards on the roster.

Poulin in goal vs. Flyers?

Capuano gave Evgeni Nabokov the start against the Penguins although he allowed nine goals in the previous two games. Kevin Poulin is likely to get the call Saturday night when the Islanders host the Flyers. It was Nabokov's ninth start in the Isles' 10 games this season.

"I had a good talk with Kevin," Capuano said, "and he knows he's going to get some more work coming up here."

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