DiPietro looks to continue his strong play when the Islanders open the home portion of their schedule against the Florida Panthers.
The Islanders lacked a true No. 1 goaltender entering this season, with DiPietro and veteran Garth Snow figuring to split time in the first few games.
Snow started the season opener against Washington, but allowed six goals on 26 and was pulled in the second period of a 6-1 loss. DiPietro, the top overall pick in the 2000 draft, stopped all 11 shots he faced in relief of Snow, then earned his first career shutout in a 6-0 victory at Buffalo on Saturday.
DiPietro had another strong performance Tuesday in a 2-2 tie at Atlanta, stopping 21 of 23 shots, including a breakaway by Frantisek Kaberle in overtime.
“DiPietro got us the tie,” New York coach Steve Stirling said.
DiPietro’s play has clearly earned him the right to start the home opener, but Stirling may not want to let Snow sit too long and could go back to the veteran for Saturday.
Since opening the season with a 3-1 win over Carolina, Florida has scored just four goals during a three-game winless streak (0-1-2).
Panthers coach Mike Keenan has seen his team struggle offensively before. Florida managed just 176 goals last season—only Carolina had fewer in the NHL.
“I think the teams that we’ve played have more of a shoot mentality than we do yet,” Keenan said. “We still have a mentality to make the pass when the shot is there.”
A 2-1 loss to visiting Phoenix on Wednesday ended Florida’s bid to remain unbeaten after four games for the first time since 1999.
Roberto Luongo has started all four games in goal and figures to get the nod against his former team. Luongo, drafted fourth overall by the Islanders in 1997, was traded to Florida on June 24, 2000 with current Panthers captain Olli Jokinen in exchange for forwards Mark Parrish and Oleg Kvasha.
Luongo is 2-5-1 with a 2.37 goals-against average in 11 games against the Islanders.
STANDINGS (through Oct. 16): Panthers - 4 points, 2nd place (tied), 2 PB, Southeast Division. Islanders - 3 points, 3rd place, 1 PB, Atlantic Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Panthers - Kristian Huselius, 2 goals; Viktor Kozlov, Mike Van Ryn and Jay Bouwmeester, 2 assists; Kozlov and Van Ryn, 3 points; Nathan Horton, 10 PIM. Islanders - Parrish, 3 goals; Jason Blake, 3 assists; Parrish and Blake, 3 points; Dave Scatchard, 23 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Oct. 16): Panthers - Power play: 13.3 percent (2 for 15), 18th (tied) in NHL. Penalty killing: 95.2 percent (20 for 21), 1st (tied). Islanders - Power play: 7.1 percent (1 for 14), 25th (tied). Penalty killing: 88.2 percent (15 for 17), 10th.
GOALTENDERS: Panthers - Luongo (1-1-2, 1.45 GAA); Islanders - DiPietro (1-0-1, 1, 0.76); Snow (0-1-0, 13.85).
2002-03 SEASON SERIES: Islanders, 2-0-2.
LAST MEETING: Dec. 30; Islanders 2-1, OT. At Uniondale, N.Y., Roman Hamrlik scored his second goal of the game on the power play with 56.9 seconds left in overtime to lift New York.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Panthers - 0-0-1-0 on the road; Islanders - 0-0-0-0 at home.