was one of the best players on the ice Thursday night in Pittsburgh. He played all 65 minutes leading up to the shootout and made 30 saves, keeping the score tied at 2, before Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano was forced to make a difficult coaching decision, asking Rick DiPietro
to step into the crease for the shootout.
“(Nabokov) battled for us as long as he could,” Capuano said. “I could have taken him out before that, but he battled and at that point in time I thought it was best for the team and for Nabby. He gave us everything he had and that’s why the decision was made.”
I think maybe during the third period, there was a situation we were talking about (taking him out of the game), but Nabby wanted to battle and stay in there so, a total team guy, wanted to do it for his teammates. - Jack Capuano
Capuano described Nabokov’s will to stay in the game and compete for his teammates commendable, as he fought through a “lower body” injury, which the coach became aware of late in regulation.
“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.”
Nabokov is not expected to practice for the next few days, but is listed as “day-to-day.”
No doubt an unconventional move, DiPietro took the ice in relief of Nabokov solely for the shootout, which was coincidentally DiPietro’s first action of the season.
“He did an outstanding job,” Capuano said of DiPietro. “You could see the fire in his eyes when he went in there. We didn’t score a goal in the shootout and the (Evgeni) Malkin goal that went in, just slipped under his pad. I thought he read it really well and unfortunately we couldn’t get one (goal) for Ricky.”
DiPietro, who backed up Al Montoya
in the Islanders first two games of the season, sustained a concussion during practice Wednesday, Oct. 12 after taking a slap shot above the brow. Tuesday night’s game was his first time back on the bench.
|Evgeni Malkin scores a shootout goal on Rick DiPietro on October 27, 2011 at Consol Energy Center. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images) |
“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.”
Luckily, DiPietro knew midway through the third period that he might be called upon. Even though he came off the bench cold to relieve the injured Nabokov, he was focused and ready to play.
“The concussion was a setback, but it’s behind me now and I’m ready to move on,” DiPietro said.
Capuano said, “We have three quality goaltenders and I believe that (DiPietro) is ready now. He’s focused and healthy and he’ll get his opportunity shortly.”
The team will announce Saturday morning whether DiPietro or Montoya will get the start against San Jose.