Islanders' power play has done job

New York Islanders' Frans Nielsen (51) celebrates his New York Islanders' Frans Nielsen (51) celebrates his goal with teammate Michael Grabner (40) during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. (Oct. 27, 2011) Photo Credit: AP

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For all the problems the Islanders have had at even strength -- and there are problems, given that they have scored a league-low 10 goals at even strength and are in the midst of a five-game winless streak -- this team still has a very potent power play.

Their only goals in Saturday night's 3-2 overtime loss to the Sharks at Nassau Coliseum came with the man advantage, including John Tavares' fourth power-play tally, tying him for the league lead.

"We have five guys that can all make plays," Frans Nielsen recently said of the power play. "We're not looking to get it to just one guy to get it moving."

The Islanders are 7-for-33 (21.2 percent) on the power play, which ranked ninth in the league entering Sunday night's games. They've built a potent attack on the power play thanks to a new architect of sorts, and the return of their quarterback.

Jack Capuano has deputized rookie assistant coach Doug Weight to run the power play, and Weight's printed handouts litter the dressing room on the morning of games. The Islanders have a variety of breakout plays from their own zone and a few different looks once they're in the zone.

The most successful look has been an Islander -- usually Tavares -- setting up in the high slot, in the middle of the four penalty-killers, to deflect a shot-like hard pass by Mark Streit.

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Streit's presence also has been a key. His greatest strength is his ability to find passing lanes at the point, and his shot/pass to Tavares has worked twice so far.

"You have to try and find the soft spots in what the PK is giving you," said Streit, who has four power-play points after missing the entire 2010-11 season with a shoulder injury.

P.A. Parenteau also is able to make plays off the side wall. The second power-play unit got its first goal Saturday when one of those well-designed breakouts generated an odd-man rush and a nifty play by Kyle Okposo led to Michael Grabner's goal.

There are more than enough playmakers to keep the Isles' power play among the top 10 in the league all season.

The Islanders also have the ninth-ranked penalty kill despite allowing two power-play goals by the Sharks. That doesn't alleviate the even-strength problems, as the current 0-3-2 winless skid shows, but the more the Islanders push the forecheck and pace at five-on-five, the more power plays they will get.

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