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Isles' DiPietro cleared to practice, questionable for game vs. Rangers

SYOSSET, N.Y. -- Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro was cleared
to practice Monday, two days after he was struck in the right eye
by Sidney Crosby's stick.

New York coach Ted Nolan said DiPietro looked good in the net
Monday but didn't reveal if the 26-year-old franchise goalie would
play Tuesday night when the Islanders face the New York Rangers at
home.

"Let's see how Ricky does at the morning skate on Tuesday and
then we'll make a decision," Nolan said. "He's too valuable to
this franchise to do anything hasty."

DiPietro was injured Saturday night in the second period of the
Islanders' 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

He was examined at Nassau Coliseum during the game and then went
to the office of team ophthalmologist Dr. Bruce Zagelbaum, who
confirmed that DiPietro didn't sustain a serious injury or
permanent damage to his eye.

Crosby charged the net with just over six minutes left in the
second period and his stick came up into the cage portion of
DiPietro's mask. DiPietro immediately skated toward the blue line
and was attended to by Islanders trainers before leaving the ice.

Crosby was given a four-minute penalty for high-sticking.

DiPietro is in the second season of a landmark 15-year contract
with the Islanders. He was sidelined by two concussions 12 days
apart late last season, missing the final seven games and the
playoff opener. He also had offseason surgery to repair a tear in
his left hip.

DiPietro said Monday that he didn't sustain a blow to head from
Crosby.

"I got a stick to the eye," he said. "I consider myself very
fortunate it was not as bad as it could have been."

The news wasn't all good for the Islanders on Monday as
defenseman Aaron Johnson, who has been used often this season at
forward, injured a knee in a collision during practice and will be
sidelined about six weeks.

"You never want to see that with a guy as dedicated as Aaron
Johnson," Nolan said. "The good news is, when it happened it
looked like the injury could have even been worse. I'm glad to hear
we'll get A.J. back."

The Islanders are expected to recall a player from Bridgeport of
the AHL before Tuesday night's game with the Rangers.