MONTREAL (CP) - The New York Islanders playoff hopes took a potential crippling blow when starting goaltender Rick DiPietro had to be taken to a Montreal hospital Tuesday for tests after a violent collision with the Canadiens' Steve Begin.
Islanders coach Ted Nolan would not confirm whether DiPietro had suffered a concussion on the play, but he did say his workhorse goalie had suffered a blow to the head and would visit with team doctors on Wednesday.
"He's back from the hospital and it looks pretty good," Nolan said after his Islanders lost 5-3 to the Canadiens. "Before we speculate on how bad it is, we'll have to wait and see. He was a little bit groggy, that was quite a hit that he took. But he seems to be OK right now."
DiPietro left Tuesday's game at 15:41 of the first period when, while chasing down a loose puck at the Islanders blue-line to prevent a breakaway, Begin collided with him at high speed and hit DiPietro in the head with his leg.
"My leg hit him pretty hard and I went flying," Begin said. "It was like the Ice Capades."
Nolan didn't feel there was anything to complain about on the play, and he realizes it is a possible risk with a goalie who wanders from his crease to play the puck as often as DiPietro does.
"I don't think the other guy saw Ricky until the last minute," Nolan said. "I don't think there was any intent to try to run Ricky." Tuesday's game was DiPietro's 18th straight start for the Islanders, and he's posted a 10-3-4 record with a .934 save percentage over that span dating back to Feb. 3.
"He's a big piece of our puzzle," Islanders defenceman Marc-Andre Bergeron said. "I hope he's not out for too long."