The New York Rangers have had a tough time trying to solve New York Islanders top goaltender Rick DiPietro in recent years.
In the first matchup between these Atlantic Division rivals this season, the Rangers may have caught a break.
The league-leading Rangers may not have to face DiPietro as they visit the struggling Islanders on Monday night.
DiPietro has been outstanding in his last 12 starts against the Rangers (8-2-1), going 8-2-2 with a 2.07 goals-against average. In five home games during that span, he is 3-1-1 with a 1.39 GAA.
But DiPietro is scheduled to see a doctor Monday for an undisclosed injury, and is questionable to be in net for the Islanders (2-5-0).
DiPietro, who has played in only three games following offseason knee surgery, was injured Saturday night during the first period of the Islanders' 4-3 home loss to Carolina. He allowed two goals on 12 shots and didn't return for the final two periods.
Islanders coach Scott Gordon didn't shed any light on the nature of the injury.
"It wasn't his performance, and we'll know more on Monday," Gordon said. "I've been told that our policy is that we can't talk about injuries, and that's what I'm stuck with."
If DiPietro can't play, the Islanders will likely turn to Joey MacDonald. He has made just six starts for the Islanders over the past two seasons.
The Islanders also recalled Yann Danis on Sunday on an emergency basis from Bridgeport of the AHL.
Facing the Rangers without DiPietro will be a tall order for the Islanders, who have lost three straight and allowed nine goals in their last two games.
The Rangers, meanwhile, have won two straight and have a league-best 17 points. They've gotten balanced scoring, and Nikolai Zherdev is starting to contribute.
Zherdev scored the tying goal with 8.1 seconds left, and Fredrik Sjostrom tallied the only goal of the shootout in the Rangers' 3-2 victory over Pittsburgh on Saturday night.
The 23-year-old Zherdev came to the Rangers from Columbus in an offseason trade. He has shown flashes of the enormous potential that made him the No. 4 pick in the 2003 draft.
Zherdev had gone four games without a point before posting a goal and two assists in a successful return to Columbus on Friday. He now has four goals and five assists with the Rangers.
"All that matters is that the team wins," Zherdev said. "Back-to-back games, everyone is tired. It's a big four points."
Second-year winger Aaron Voros, meanwhile, tops the Rangers with five goals. Voros, signed as a free agent in July, had just seven in 55 games for Minnesota last season.
With players such as Zherdev and Voros coming through, the Rangers have built a five-point lead over Pittsburgh in the Atlantic. The Islanders are at the bottom of the division, with a league-worst four points.
Despite playing perhaps their best game of the season, the Islanders had their losing streak extended Saturday.
Doug Weight was stopped on a penalty shot with 0.7 seconds left with a chance to tie the game for the Islanders, who set a franchise record with 60 shots on goal.
This is the finale of a three-game homestand for the Islanders. They are 1-3-0 at Nassau Coliseum, allowing 4.5 goals per game.
The Islanders went 2-2-0 at home against the Rangers last season, and won the series 5-3-0.