DiPietro falls short in first NHL start in 419 days

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New York Islanders goaltender Rick DiPietro returned to his Massachusetts roots to take on the Bruins in Boston on Friday, but it was more than just a homecoming for the 31-year-old goaltender.

Injuries limited DiPietro to just 47 games over the previous four seasons and going into this contest, he hadn’t played in the NHL since Dec. 3, 2011.

The Islanders fell 4-2 and DiPietro only managed to save 23 shots, but Islanders coach Jack Capuano stuck up for him after the contest.

“We had some guys that could’ve played a bit better, that could’ve stepped it up. Rick played well and kept us in the game,” Capuano said.

DiPietro was feeling great physically going into the shortened season, but his path to redemption is an uphill climb. 37-year-old goaltender Evgeni Nabokov started in the Islanders’ first three contests and should maintain the number one gig this season unless DiPietro can wrestle it away from him.