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DiPietro returns to Isles' net

by Staff
New York Islanders starting goaltender Rick DiPietro, sidelined for two months due to a knee injury that required surgery, returned to the lineup Friday for the Isles' home game against Toronto.

The return of their starting goaltender appeared to give the Islanders a spark. He made 28 saves and had an assist in New York's 4-1 victory over the Leafs, ending a 10-game losing streak.

DiPietro had played only three games this season, none since leaving after the first period of the Isles' game against Carolina on  Oct. 25. He underwent arthroscopic knee surgery two days later and didn't resume practicing until earlier this month.

DiPietro underwent offseason hip and knee surgery and returned to the ice late in training camp. He dressed as the backup to Joey MacDonald for the Islanders' first four games, lost 2-0 at Florida on Oct. 18 and 5-3 to Dallas five nights later. He allowed two goals in the first period against Carolina on Oct. 25 before being lifted.

MacDonald has played all but two games since then. He was named the NHL's third star for November after going 8-5-1 with a 2.64 goals-against average, but the Isles have struggled this month, going 0-9-1 in their 10 December games before Christmas.

DiPietro, 27, made the Eastern Conference team for the 2008 All-Star Game, but was never the same after injuring his right hip during the skills competition. He tried to play through the injury but was finally forced to shut down for the season in March and ultimately had to undergo surgery. He later underwent offseason surgery on his knee as well.

The Islanders chose DiPietro with the No. 1 pick in the 2000 Entry Draft. He took over as their starting goaltender in 2003-04. He has a 116-111-8-21 record in 271 NHL appearances, with a 2.79 goals-against average and 14 shutouts.

The Islanders signed DiPietro to a 15-year contract prior to the 2006-07 season. However, he has been plagued with injuries in each season since then, missing time in '06-07 with concussions and having postseason surgery on his left hip before last season's problems.
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