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Isles' Rick DiPietro cleared to play

Wednesday, 03.16.2011 / 6:15 PM / News

NHL.com

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Isles' Rick DiPietro cleared to play
New York Islanders goaltender Rick DiPietro has been cleared by team doctors to play in a game.

DiPietro has been sidelined since Feb. 11, when he suffered facial fractures from a punch he took from Pittsburgh goaltender Brent Johnson. The team said another contributing factor to his absence has been recurring swelling in his knee.

He has been practicing for the past couple of weeks.

"I feel good in practice and everything else, but you don't really know until you get the chance to see some game action," DiPietro said Wednesday.

The Islanders haven't said when he'll play, but it could be as early as this weekend, when the Isles have back-to-back games at Carolina on Friday and Florida on Saturday.

"Anytime you come back from an injury it's always a long strenuous process, but it's nice to be back around the guys and I'm looking forward to the road trip," DiPietro said.

The Islanders, who also signed 2009 second-rounder Aaron Ness from the University of Minnesota, sent goaltender Nathan Lawson back to their AHL affiliate in Bridgeport.

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I have been blessed to play for 16 years in the NHL; it has been an amazing ride. I would like to thank the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers organizations and owners for providing me the opportunity to play the sport I love for so many years. I could have never played for so long or accomplished all that I have without the unwavering love and support from my wife, Heather, our three sons, Ryan, Lucas, and Mason, and my parents.

— Martin St. Louis after announcing his retirement from the NHL on Thursday