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DiPietro cleared to practice; questionable for game against Rangers @NHLdotcom

SYOSSET, N.Y. - Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro was cleared to practise 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 off-season 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 defenceman 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.

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