DiPietro cleared to play

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Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro has been cleared to get injured again.

The hard-luck netminder will likely survive tonight’s game against the Penguins at Nassau Coliseum, as he’ll only be backing up Evgeni Nabokov. Although you never know. Pucks can fly into the bench pretty fast.

DiPietro has been out with a concussion since Oct. 12. In his absence, the Islanders (3-3-0) have been splitting goaltending duties between Nabokov and Al Montoya, with both performing well between the pipes.

DiPietro suffered his latest concussion in practice when a teammate fired a puck off his mask. The last time the 30-year-old appeared in a regular-season game was April 9 when he surrendered six goals in a 7-4 loss to the Flyers. His 2010-11 numbers were poor (3.44 GAA, .886 SV%).

So with three possible options in goal, who’s the official starter for the Islanders? The answer is still to be determined, according to coach Jack Capuano.

“Our goaltending right now is one of our strong points on our hockey team,” Capuano said today, as reported by the New York Post. “But is there a clear No. 1? No.”

It’ll be interesting to see how the Islanders handle the goaltending situation, because it’s more complicated than just figuring out who’s playing the best. There are salary-cap considerations as well.

If DiPietro were to be sent down to the AHL (as has been suggested in the past), that would mean his $4.5-million cap hit would come off the books, pushing the team under the cap floor.

It must be hard to be an Isles fan.