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Paille is back on job

He won’t avoid blocking shots

Shawn Thornton (left) wasn’t happy with some of the tactics used by Jared Boll. Shawn Thornton (left) wasn’t happy with some of the tactics used by Jared Boll. (Charles Krupa/Associated Press)
By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / November 20, 2011

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UNIONDALE, N.Y. - As a penalty killer, one of Daniel Paille’s primary jobs is to gum up shooting lanes and block shots from the point. The last time the Bruins played the Islanders, Paille learned how painful that part of his job can be.

On Nov. 7, Islanders defenseman Steve Staios nailed Paille in the face with a slap shot. Paille suffered a broken nose that knocked him out for three games. He returned against Columbus Thursday wearing a full cage.

But even with facial protection, the nature of Paille’s job puts the fourth-line wing at risk.

“It’s something I deal with every day,’’ Paille said of throwing himself in front of pucks. “What happened a couple weeks ago was the first time that’s ever happened in my career. Hopefully, it’s the last.’’

In retrospect, Staios’s shot was unusual. Defensemen who wind up for point slappers try to keep pucks low. That way, teammates can tip them past netminders. Or goalies have to kick them out instead of catching them, which can create rebounds.

But shot-blockers like Paille can also take pucks off their feet, which is the most common issue. Other players, such as Gregory Campbell, often hit the deck to block shots. That method opens up the rest of their bodies for puck bombardment.

The dangers of the job, however, are risks that Paille must take. Jordan Caron, a healthy scratch last night for the second straight game, is hungry for more playing time. Like Paille, Caron is tabbed to kill penalties. If Paille hesitates because of the puck he absorbed in the face, his coaches will be swift to yank him from the lineup in favor of Caron.

Last night, Paille skated 18 shifts for 13:45 of ice time, including 54 seconds on the penalty kill, in the 6-0 victory. Coach Claude Julien credited Paille and linemates Campbell and Shawn Thornton for their heavy, offensive-zone play.

“I thought Campbell’s line was really good,’’ said Julien. “They did a lot of good things for us. They set the tone. They spent more time in the offensive zone. Any time that line does that, it’s a good sign for them.’’

Boychuk back

Johnny Boychuk missed the 2-1 shootout win over Columbus because of flu-like symptoms, but was back in last night’s lineup, paired with Zdeno Chara.

Boychuk blocked two shots and landed two hits in 16:40 of ice time.

Adam McQuaid, Chara’s partner against the Blue Jackets, skated on the third pairing with Andrew Ference. Steven Kampfer was the healthy scratch.

DiPietro gets shot

Ailments have always been an issue for Rick DiPietro. The Winthrop, Mass., native has suffered from knee injuries, a mangled face following last season’s fight with Brent Johnson, and a concussion earlier this season delivered via a Brian Rolston slap shot.

So it’s strange to consider DiPietro the healthiest of the New York goalies.

Last night, DiPietro got the nod and was backed up by AHL netminder Anders Nilsson. Evgeni Nabokov, who started the Islanders’ last game against the Bruins, is out indefinitely because of a groin injury he suffered Thursday against Montreal.

Al Montoya didn’t dress last night because of a hamstring strain, and is day to day.

“It’s a good opportunity for him,’’ Islanders coach Jack Capuano said of DiPietro before last night’s game. “If you know Rick, he’s a competitive kid. He wants to have a challenge. There’s no better place than against the Stanley Cup champions. It will be a good test for him.’’

DiPietro entered last night 2-1-2 with a 2.85 goals-against average and .900 save percentage. The first pick of the 2000 draft, he has never established himself as the No. 1 netminder the Islanders once believed they had.

DiPietro surrendered three goals in the first period and was replaced after intermission.

Fighting mad

Thornton had a shiner under his left eye and a scratch on his right cheek, the remnants of his fight with Jared Boll Thursday. Thornton invited Boll to fight after the Columbus tough guy slammed into Kampfer. After the fight, Thornton was angry because he believed Boll threw a late punch. “I wasn’t happy about it,’’ Thornton said. “I’ve fought him twice now. It was an exhibition game a couple years ago. When I’d fallen on the ground, he threw a late one. You’ve seen me fight a hundred times. I don’t get upset too often. That’s twice he’s done that in two fights. I’m not a big fan of that.’’ . . . Joe Corvo was on the ice for five of Boston’s six goals, assisting on Ference’s third-period strike . . . The Bruins wore their home black jerseys because the Islanders chose to wear their whites. During warm-ups, Ference, the alternate captain at home, had the “A’’ on his jersey. But after a quick tailoring job, the letter came off and was stitched onto Chris Kelly’s uniform . . . Campbell was the Bruins’ best draw man, winning 12 of 14 faceoffs . . . The Bruins remained in Uniondale last night, and will fly to Montreal today . . . Mark Streit was on the ice for all five even-strength Boston goals.

Picking his spot

Kyle Okposo was a healthy scratch for the Islanders for a third straight game. Okposo, the No. 7 pick in 2006, has zero goals and three assists in 14 games, and is an alternate captain. “We had a real good chat this morning,’’ Capuano said. “Kyle knows exactly what the plan is moving forward. We had a good game last game with everybody contributing. Kyle will be back in there shortly.’’ Rival GMs have undoubtedly inquired about Okposo’s availability with Islanders GM Garth Snow. Okposo is in the first season of a five-year, $14 million deal . . . The Islanders honored former captain and ex-Bruin Ed Westfall before the game. Westfall was inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame.

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GlobeFluto.

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