DiPIETRO’S DEBUT: Semi-Live Blogging from FLAPanthers 6 Islanders 0

SUNRISE, FLORIDA: 9:47 pm – The Islanders failed to score in the first 2:35 of the 5-minute power play before Sean Bergenheim hooking penalty. The Panthers made it 4-0 at 14:15 of the third on a goal by Jay Bouwmeester. But all that, plus DiPietro’s return, is now secondary to the condition of Chris Lee.

 

We’re making our way down to the locker room area and will provide any updates available.

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9:40 PM, LEE INJURED: With 11:02 remaining, Islanders defenseman Chris Lee was boarded by Olesz. Lee stayed on the ice and a board and stretcher was brought out in a matter of moments. We will do our best to obtain an update on Lee’s condition.

 

When challenged by Lee’s teammates, Olesz immediately went down to the ice, not interested in a fight. The crowd at the arena fell silent as doctors observed Lee.

 

The Islanders defenseman was taken off the ice on a stretcher nine minutes after the incident.

 

Lee received 5 minutes for checking from behind, and a game misconduct.

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9:32 pm – Reaction from goalie coach Mike Dunham on DiPietro mid-way through the third period:

 

“He’s moving around the net well, and that’s what we really wanted to see tonight. Also looks like he’s seeing the puck well. First two goals, not much of a chance. The third one is something that will come with time as he gets more comfortable. Overall, we’re pleased with how Rick has responded after a long layoff.”

 

Shots: Panthers 26, Islanders 26

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9:23 pm – In a mild surprise, DiPietro returned for the start of the third period and looks like he may get the complete game. This killed my dream of him coming out after 2 and me having the first blogger mid-game interview in NHL history.

Quiet opening to the period. DiPietro with nice glove save on Colie Campbell’s son five minutes in.

Josh Bailey played 12:21 through two periods. He’s minus-1 with no shots.

Shots on goal: Panthers 24, Islanders 22.

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8:59 pm - On the bright side, nobody has gotten hurt yet - most especially DiPietro. The goaltender is challenging, not shying away from crashes to the net. When he visited the bench for the final (no-) TV timeout of the second period, he was talking instead of stretching or commiserating with trainer Garrett Timms.

Some nifty passing on an Islander power play late in the second, with Freddy Meyer going backdoor to the net. That’s a play you’ll see a lot more of this season. Brilliant save by Vokoun on Tambellini with ten seconds left.

Vokoun has played well, and give credit to the new-look Panthers D for a strong game after two periods. They have kept most of the Islanders scoring chances to the perimeter. That said, the Islanders have not generated enough on offense and they haven’t stood tall in front of their returning netminder. DiPietro has gotten plenty of work in.

Shots on goal after 2: Islanders 22, Panthers 20

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8:42 pm - Panthers take 3-0 lead on power play goal by Rostislav Olesz, a deflection of a point show by Jay Bouwmeester. The goal, scored at 8:47 of second, came after a slashing penalty by Bill Guerin and illustrated what Scott Gordon meant when he said nothing in practice can simulate traffic on front of your net.

The Panthers had taken a 2-0 lead a minute earlier on a goal by Kamil Kreps on assists from Ville Peltonen and Stewart. Not the greatest of support tonight for a returning franchise goaltender. Not the best way for the Islanders to end the pre-season. Gordon cannot like the differential in the scoring chances tonight, although Vokoun has been solid.

Shots on goal mid-way through game: Panthers 20, Islanders 16

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8:30 pm - A Vokoun save on a Park breakaway one minute in and DiPietro save on partial Nathan Horton breakout are the highlights so far. Other than that, not much doing for the Islanders. Panthers getting the better of play, providing DiPietro a good test in his debut.

Shots on goal for the game: Panthers 18, Islanders 13

Join me in the Comments area for some rapid-fire Q & A! Whatever I don’t get to tonight I’ll address by the morning.

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8:07 pm - Panthers take a 1-0 lead when Anthony Stewart coverts a centering pass from Brett McLean at 15:11 of the first. Not a bad goal by any stretch, but arguably DiPietro at his sharpest makes a dazzler. The Panthers scored on their 11th shot of the period.

Say this for the Islanders: they are giving their returning goaltender plenty of work. Two periods of action could suffice tonight.

For the period, DiPietro saved 14 of 15. Tomas Vokoun is 10-10.

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7:55 pm - The Islanders completely whiffed on their power play chance. The only highlight was a three-quarters pass DiPietro whipped to Kyle Okposo, but DiPietro could probably execute that from his room in Vail.

After the power play ended, DiPietro absorbed his first physical contact when teammate Andy Hilbert slid into him. DiPietro shoved Hilbert out of his net and there was no harm.

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7:45 pm - Rick DiPietro made his first save at 1:29 of the first period when Cory Stillman cranked a slap shot right into the Islanders logo on his jersey. He handled it cleanly and waited for the whistle. A minute later, he deflected a wraparound from Stillman.

He looks sharp, but has yet to be really tested.

Besides DiPietro and 2009 2008 first round pick Josh Bailey, I’m not focused in on much because the final score means little and I have a feeling all roster decisions have been made. DiPietro is the story tonight, with a little Bailey on the side.

With 13:09 left in the first, DiPietro has two saves and the Islanders are about to go on the power play.

Islanders lines and D pairs tonight:

Bergenheim – Weight – Guerin

Tambellini – Comrie – Okposo

Hilbert – Bailey – Park

Fritz – Colliton – Comeau

Hillen – Skinner

Lee – Gervais

Pock – Meyer

Notes: Possible dance partner for Mitch Fritz tonight – veteran NHL heavyweight Wade Belak. If Belak’s cranky shoulder is good to guy, that’s a battle of the big boys…

Out tonight but locks for Friday in New Jersey: Trent Hunter, Jon Sim, Frans Nielsen, Brendan Witt, Radek Martinek, Mark Streit.

Out tonight and on the bubble: Tim Jackman (got a chance), Trevor Smith (longshot), Yann Danis (a close second to MacDonald and ready to be No. 1 in Bridgeport).

If I can handle the coordination and eat the press box popcorn at the same time, I’ll do my best to answer your questions during the intermissions. Please put them in Comments now, and please don’t make the questions too long or difficult!