NEW YORK - Wade Dubielewicz came to Madison Square Garden expecting to see No. 1 goalie Rick DiPietro getting ready for the start of a huge home-and-home series with the New York Rangers.
What he found was New York Islanders coach Ted Nolan, who told him to get ready because it was his turn again to shine.
Rekindling memories of the Islanders' final week run to the playoffs last year, Dubielewicz made 27 saves and stopped five of six shots in the shootout. That lifted his club to a key 4-3 victory Tuesday night.
DiPietro spent the previous two days in Massachusetts for the wake and funeral of his grandmother, who died last week. When Islanders general manager Garth Snow told him to take another day with his family, Dubielewicz stepped in for the second straight game.
He was solid in making 29 saves in a 1-0 loss to Florida on Sunday and followed that with another good performance that boosted his career mark against the Rangers to 2-0.
"It's my job," said Dubielewicz, who earned a contract this season for his stellar play last spring. "If I don't do it, somebody is breathing down my neck that will."
Dubielewicz was chosen as the NHL's top star for the final week of last season when he went 4-0 with two shootout victories as New York rallied for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference while DiPietro was injured.
He sealed the berth on the last day with a shootout victory at New Jersey.
"It just allows you to have a sense of confidence," Dubielewicz said. "The fact that we were able to make a little run with me in the net last year maybe gave them a sense of confidence, but last year is last year. If we were to do it again, that would be great."
Dubielewicz might get another chance at home Thursday when the Islanders host the Rangers. DiPietro is expected to return to practice Wednesday, but Nolan indicated he could go back to the fourth-year player out of British Columbia instead of the man with the 15-year contract.
"There's a good chance of that," Nolan said. "Come to practice tomorrow and find out."
Jeff Tambellini scored in the sixth round in the shootout, and the Islanders overcame another short-handed goal to beat the Rangers for the fourth time in five meetings this season.
The Islanders are 10th in the East, three points and two places below the post-season cutoff. The Rangers are in seventh, three points ahead of Philadelphia.
Rangers forward Nigel Dawes and Islanders captain Bill Guerin were the only others to score in the shootout.
Blake Comeau, Sean Bergenheim, and Trent Hunter had goals in regulation for the Islanders, who shook off Ryan Callahan's short-handed goal in the third period and won for the second time in six games (2-4).
One game after the Islanders had a season-high 53 shots versus Florida, they posted their fewest - 18 against Henrik Lundqvist.
Dawes and Chris Drury had the other goals for the Rangers, 7-0-3 in their last 10.
"For whatever reason, Dubielewicz plays really well against us," said forward Brendan Shanahan, who fired a shot off the crossbar in overtime. "I don't know if he gets in the head of the players or what."
Callahan got the Rangers even at 3 when he smacked a rebound of Scott Gomez's shot past Dubielewicz 5:47 into the third period. It was the NHL-worst 14th short-handed goal scored against the Islanders and third in six games.
The Islanders scored three goals in a five-shot spurt and led 3-2 through 40 minutes despite putting only 13 pucks on net.
Comeau started the scoring barrage that produced five goals in a span of 8:31 that bridged the first and second periods.
The Islanders dumped the puck behind the net, and defenseman Marek Malik retrieved it for the Rangers. Comeau forced a turnover and flung the puck in front, where it hit Malik's defence partner, Michal Rozsival, in the right skate and caromed in off a surprised Lundqvist with 1:17 left in the first.
"That's the way this game works," Hunter said. "We got a couple of lucky bounces and some pucks that probably shouldn't be going in, were going in."
Dawes tied it 2:29 into the second during the game's first power play.
That goal hadn't been completely announced to the boisterous crowd, filled with a healthy mix of Rangers and Islanders fans, when the visitors regained the lead.
Bergenheim let go a shot from the high slot to make it 2-1 just 41 seconds later, and the Islanders made it a two-goal edge exactly 2 minutes later when Ruslan Fedotenko took advantage of a misplay by Lundqvist at the edge of the trapezoid and another turnover in front. His shot from the right circle was deflected in by Hunter.
Drury cut the Rangers' deficit to 3-2 at 7:14, slapping in a shot from well above the right circle.
Notes: The Islanders recorded at least 34 shots in each of their previous four games, including two 50-plus efforts that ended in defeat. They scored only eight goals on 176 shots in those games and went 1-3.