Islanders coach Ted Nolan has yet to reveal if his franchise goaltender will play Tuesday night as they continue their season series with the Rangers.
DiPietro was cleared to practice Monday, two days after he was struck in the right eye by Sidney Crosby’s stick in the Islanders 3-2 win over Pittsburgh.
Nolan said DiPietro looked good, but hasn’t decided who will start against the Rangers (7-6-1) in a matchup of teams tied for second place in the Atlantic Division.
“Let’s see how Ricky does at the morning skate on Tuesday and then we’ll make a decision,” Nolan said. “He’s too valuable to this franchise to do anything hasty.”
DiPietro was injured in the second period against the Penguins on Saturday night, and did not return. Wade Dubielewicz would start if DiPietro is held out.
He made 36 saves to lead the Islanders (7-4-0) to a 2-1 win over the Rangers on Oct. 10 in the most recent meeting. The Islanders are 7-1-2 against the Rangers since losing five straight to them in regulation, and DiPietro has been outstanding over that span, going 6-1-2 with a 1.98 goals-against average.
DiPietro is 2-1-1 with a 1.24 GAA in his last four starts against the Rangers at Nassau Coliseum.
Dubielewicz, meanwhile, has faced the Rangers once, stopping 36 shots before turning aside all three of the Rangers’ attempts in a shootout as the Islanders won 3-2 on April 3.
The Rangers have also gotten some strong goaltending in this series, with Henrik Lundqvist going 6-3-2 with a 2.08 GAA in 12 games against the Islanders. He made 28 saves against the Islanders on Oct. 10.
Lundqvist has had a stellar season, showing no signs of fatigue despite playing all 14 games for the Rangers. He earned his fourth shutout Monday night, stopping 30 shots as the Rangers extended their winning streak to four games with a 2-0 win over Philadelphia.
The 25-year-old Swede had only five shutouts all of last season, when he played 70 games. He has given up more than one goal only once in his last eight games, yielding three in a loss to Toronto on Oct. 27.
The Rangers, who wrapped up a six-game homestand 5-1-0 with Monday’s victory, have been able to go on their longest winning streak of the season despite scoring just two goals in each of their last three games.
“I don’t know what to say,” Lundqvist said. “Going into the season everybody was talking about our offensive game. But we’ve been playing a really strict game, defensive hockey, smart hockey. The good part is it starts to pay off.”
Jaromir Jagr finally scored his third goal of the year, getting the Rangers on the board late in the first period Monday. Jagr thought he scored No. 3 last Monday against Tampa Bay, but the goal was credited to Brendan Shanahan three days later.
Jagr has just two assists in his last five games against the Islanders.
Shanahan, who scored the Rangers’ other goal Monday, has found the back of the net six times in his last seven games against the Islanders.