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Islanders need to earn more power-play opportunities

Jack Capuano of the New York Islanders looks

Jack Capuano of the New York Islanders looks on from the bench during a game against the Vancouver Canucks at Barclays Center on Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016. Credit: Jim McIsaac

FARMERS BRANCH, Texas — Hockey fans, coaches and players have analyzed and angsted over power-play scoring percentages for decades, but sometimes a more fundamental thing applies: getting power plays in the first place.

That has been the Islanders’ problem lately, with a difficult-to-believe six power plays in their past five games, including none Thursday night in a 4-2 loss to the Predators.

There is only one team with fewer power plays this season than the Islanders’ 195. The Rangers have 192.

Coach Jack Capuano and his players are aware of the issue and hope to do something about it in time for Saturday night’s game against the Stars, one of the NHL’s most high-powered teams.

The mantra both after Thursday’s game and after practice here Friday was that the Islanders are not putting enough pressure on opponents to force the kinds of actions that lead to penalties.

“We’re not coming out of our end very well and we’re not making it hard on other teams to have to defend,” John Tavares said.

Said Johnny Boychuk, “You have to earn penalties. You have to keep your feet moving and do the simple things and get it deep and get cutbacks so they have to put their sticks in places where you can get a call.”

Capuano said that while there are calls he wished his team had gotten in recent games, he did not blame officials for the Islanders’ lack of man-advantage time.

“We have to spend more time in the offensive zone,” Frans Nielsen said. “That’s usually where you get the calls. We have to make it hard on them. I think we just haven’t been hard enough to play against lately.”

The second-place Rangers have 88 points, the Islanders 85 and the Penguins 84 in the Metropolitan Division, but the Islanders have two games in hand over the Rangers and one over the Penguins.

The Stars will present a challenge, even with star forward Tyler Seguin out because of a cut in his Achilles tendon that he suffered Thursday night. He is expected to miss three to four weeks.

The Islanders again will be without Mikhail Grabovski, of whom Capuano said, “I would say right now I don’t expect him back here for a little bit of time.”

Casey Cizikas, who missed Thursday’s game, practiced Friday but Capuano said he remains day-to-day with “a tweak in the upper body.” Cizikas will test himself again Saturday morning.

New York Sports