Islanders hurt by struggling power play

P.A. Parenteau of the New York Islanders battles

P.A. Parenteau of the New York Islanders battles for the puck against Matt Niskanen and Simon Despres of the Pittsburgh Penguins. (Dec. 10, 2011) (Credit: Jim McIsaac)

Among the many breakdowns the Islanders had in their 6-3 loss to the Penguins on Saturday night, one of the bigger failures was their power play.

The power play had been a boost to their 4-0-2 streak, going 6-for-18 in a five-game stretch in which the Islanders picked up nine of a possible 10 points.

But in the last two games, a 3-2 overtime loss to the Blackhawks and the loss to the Penguins, the power play has made some glaring mistakes.

On Thursday night against Chicago, a 1:54 span of five-on-three time at the end of the second and beginning of the third went for nothing, with Brian Rolston missing the net from the high slot twice in the final 11 seconds of the second period.

On Saturday night, the Isles did score on the power play, a gift goal by Milan Jurcina on which Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury simply whiffed. But both power-play units struggled. It was against one of the better penalty-killing units in the league, but the Islanders can't afford to give away advantages.

The Islanders went 1-for-7 Saturday night after going 0-for-6 Thursday night. No wonder they came away with only one point in those games.

"Special teams, goaltending -- we need to be the best team at those to win games," Jack Capuano said. He added that, after the all-around poor performance against the Penguins, he was considering changing some personnel.

That might be tough to do with the overall roster, given the Islanders have only Micheal Haley as a healthy extra player, but Capuano certainly could shuffle the power-play units around.

The first unit has been pretty well set since the start of the season, with John Tavares and Matt Moulson, who are tied for the team lead with four power-play goals apiece, up front with P.A. Parenteau, and Mark Streit with either Rolston or a defenseman at the points.

Streit had a tough time handling the puck Saturday, but he wasn't alone. There was too much standing still for both units. Jurcina, who has been playing his best hockey of the season in the last week, moved to the side boards to unleash his big slap shot for the power-play goal.

Late in Saturday's loss, Capuano gave Josh Bailey and David Ullstrom some power-play time. After a 1-for-13 performance the last two games, some new faces indeed could get a look.

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