While many would have surely loved to have seen the New York Islanders' Evgeni Nabokov take on his former team, a lower-body injury is likely to keep the former San Jose Sharks goaltender out of Saturday night's matchup at Nassau Coliseum.
Nabokov spent the first 10 NHL seasons of his career with the Sharks (5-3-0) -- helping them reach the playoffs nine times.
Despite a 1-2-0 record, the 36-year-old veteran has impressed in four games this season, posting a 2.23 goals-against average. He was especially sharp Thursday, turning away 30 of 32 shots in a 3-2 shootout loss at Pittsburgh -- the fourth straight defeat for the Islanders (3-4-1).
Nabokov, though, sustained a minor lower-body injury in the first period. While he was able to play through the pain in regulation and overtime, he was removed prior to the shootout.
"I think maybe during the third period, there was a situation, we were talking about (changing goalies), but Nabby wanted to battle and stay in there so, a total team guy, he wanted to do it for his teammates," coach Jack Capuano told the team's official website.
With Nabokov hurt, Capuano turned to oft-injured Rick DiPietro -- who hadn't played this season until that point. He suffered a concussion in practice Oct. 12 and was on the bench for the first time Thursday.
He stopped two of Pittsburgh's three shootout attempts, becoming just the fifth goalie to enter a game having not played during regulation or overtime since the NHL instituted the shootout in 2005.
"One thing this whole plague of injuries has taught me is 'enjoy each day and each chance you get to lace them up,'" DiPietro said. "You never know, chances to get a slap shot to head, you never know if something bad is going to happen to you. I'm happy to be a part of (this team) and contribute any way I can."
The Islanders announced Saturday morning DiPietro would start rather than Al Montoya, who's 2-1-0 with a 1.35 GAA at home this season. DiPietro has gone 1-2-0 with a 3.36 GAA in three career meetings with the Sharks, whom he hasn't faced since 2008.
San Jose, which lost three of its first four games, is 4-0-0 on its six-game road trip. Forwards Patrick Marleau and Ryane Clowe both scored, captain Joe Thornton tallied two goals and Antti Niemi made 30 saves during Friday's 4-2 victory over Detroit.
"They really started to pinch a lot as a team and we were fortunate enough to get the puck in behind them and away we went," coach Todd McLellan said.
Niemi, who has started every game on the Sharks' current trek, has gone 15-4-2 with a 2.15 GAA over his last 21 regular-season starts dating to last season.
The Sharks have controlled this series, posting a 9-2-0 record with one tie over their last 12 meetings with the Islanders.
Thornton, who has notched seven goals and nine assists in his last 13 visits to Long Island, has three and five, respectively, during a five-game point streak.
San Jose has been able to consistently score on this road trip despite struggling on the power play. The Sharks are 1 for 11 with the man advantage in the four road victories, finally clicking on Clowe's tally in the second period.
While the Islanders, who have been outscored 13-5 during their 0-3-1 skid, continue to falter, they've killed all but three of their opponents' 32 power-play opportunities.
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