Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Islanders

Rick DiPietro returns tonight for Islanders against Buffalo

The recent stretch of games that’s seen the Islanders go with a rookie rotation featuring goaltending luminaries like Nathan Lawson and Kevin Poulin is about to come to an end. Islander-for-life Rick DiPietro will be starting tonight against Buffalo after missing the last five games with a groin injury. The timing of DiPietro’s latest injury was made more awkward thanks to the Isles trading Dwayne Roloson to Tampa Bay just two days before that.

Since DiPietro’s injury, the Isles have gone 1-2-2 with their pair of youngsters holding things down in goal. While Nathan Lawson is technically the backup goalie now on Long Island, it was Kevin Poulin who seemed to play better. It’s no coincidence that Poulin earned the Islanders lone victory during DiPietro’s absence. Either way though, the Islanders are opting to go with a very inexperienced backup to play behind the NHL’s seemingly most fragile goaltender.

The Islanders opted to pass on picking up Michael Leighton when he was put on waivers just a couple weeks ago. Signing Leighton would’ve given them an NHL-caliber goalie to split time with DiPietro and start when DiPietro was out with an injury. Apparently his price tag ($1.55 million cap hit this year and next) was too much for the salary cap floor scraping Islanders to want to take on.

As for how long DiPietro lasts this time around, given his myriad of injuries it’s almost impossible to think he makes it to the end of the season without another stint on the injured list.

Campbell’s perfect snipe sinks Wings in OT

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Brian Campbell doesn’t score as many points as he used to, but he came up with a huge goal against the Red Wings on Sunday afternoon.

With the game tied, 1-1, in overtime, Campbell skated into the slot and beat Petr Mrazek with a perfect wrister to end the game.

It was also a pretty nice passing play between Jussi Jokinen, Jonathan Huberdeau and Campbell.

Dylan Larkin opened the scoring in the second period before Reilly Smith leveled the score with just over five minutes remaining.

The Wings have blown a lead in three straight games.

Detroit was up 2-0 and 3-2 in their last game, against Edmonton, before they finally closed the game out with an overtime goal by Niklas Kronwall.

They weren’t so fortunate against the Bruins on Wednesday, as they lost 3-2 in OT after leading 2-1 with under two minutes remaining in regulation.

This was the first meeting of the season between Detroit and Florida, but they’ll see each other three times between Feb. 4 and Mar. 19.

With Jonathan Bernier sputtering, we’ll meet Garret Sparks

Garett Sparks
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You can’t blame Mike Babcock for siding with the relatively unknown when the other option is Jonathan Bernier, a goalie who’s 0-8-1 so far in 2015-16.

With that in mind, meet Garret Sparks, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ expected starter for Monday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers.

Sparks was a seventh-round pick (190th overall) in 2011, a guy who was off to a great start in the AHL. That much wasn’t lost on Babcock.

Let’s face it, though; this is as much about the Leafs’ other two goalies as it is about Sparks (whose name inspired a very obscure reference in this post’s headline).

In Bernier’s case, there’s an “enough’s enough” feel:

Meanwhile, James Reimer‘s not quite healthy enough to play yet, so the window of opportunity is open for Sparks … a little bit.

Sparks will get a chance to make an impression, even if it’s just a small one.

Video: Dylan Larkin adds to his rookie goals lead

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So far, the 2015-16 crop of rookies is living up to the hype, if not exceeding it. Connor McDavid‘s unfortunate injury hasn’t even derailed this year’s crop.

The Detroit Red Wings are watching their own blue chip blossom, as Dylan Larkin is making an instant impact.

No. 71 scored his 10th goal of the season against the Florida Panthers on Sunday, fattening his rookie goals lead.

He still needs five points to match rookie points leader Artemi Panarin, though.

Latest report leaves Carey Price’s injury timeline fuzzy

Carey Price
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There’s one thing we seem to know about Carey Price‘s injury situation: he first got hurt stepping on a puck on Oct. 29, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

Contrary to earlier reports about him missing about a month, it sounds like his window of recovery is still up in the air (which, to be fair, could mean that he’ll still miss about a month when it’s all said and done).

ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that Price underwent testing with Montreal’s team doctor on Saturday and is expected to go through more; we may not know more about his expected injury timeline until early this coming week.

So, basically, Price’s situation is fuzzier than his mustache right now.

Leg injuries can be tricky anyway, so we shouldn’t be too surprised that there are mixed signals regarding Price, and this may remain a fluid situation for some time.

(But we’ll hopefully know more soon enough.)