BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - Rick DiPietro started Game 2 of the Islanders' first-round playoff series against Buffalo on Saturday, returning to the New York net after missing three weeks with post-concussion symptoms.
It was DiPietro's first game since March 25, when he sustained his second concussion in a 12-day span. The 25-year-old goalie took part in his first team practice Friday, with the Islanders hoping DiPietro's presence can bolster them after a 4-1 loss to the Sabres on Thursday in Game 1 of the best-of-seven, Eastern Conference series.
"I feel good, I did everything I normally would before a game," DiPietro said after taking part in the pre-game skate Saturday. "I'm ready to play."
"If he says he wants to play, he's going to play," Islanders coach Ted Nolan said.
DiPietro, the first pick in the 2000 NHL draft, tied an Islanders record with 32 victories this season, his first since signing a 15-year contract. He also went 3-0-2 in his final six regular-season appearances.
The Islanders sneaked into the playoffs by winning their final four games behind minor-leaguer Wade Dubielewicz, who took over after backup Mike Dunham faltered. Dubielewicz, sharp in stopping 31 shots in his NHL playoff debut Thursday, served as DiPietro's backup Saturday.