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Islanders' penalty-killers come up big

The Islanders knew they had gotten away with playing with fire after they gave the Washington Capitals seven power-play opportunities in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series on Wednesday, and they were determined to clean up that part of their game Friday night. And they did. The Capitals had only two power plays in Game 2.

Those two power plays that the Islanders had to kill Friday were huge, though. Both came in the third period with the Isles desperately clinging to a one-goal lead. But Barry Trotz’ penalty-killers rose to the occasion, snuffing those two power plays and allowing only one shot on goal in the process. Then the Islanders tacked on two late insurance goals to beat the Capitals, 5-2, and take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

“When you need a kill, you’re in a one-goal game, and you’ve got that [Washington] power play that’s got so many weapons on it that can hurt you in so many ways,’’ Trotz said. “You need that big kill in those moments, and . . . our guys were big in that moment. And you know, sometimes you look at the numbers and percentages, but when you need those kills, we got it done. And in a real important time, in the third period, when you know the other team is pressing.’’

But the penalty-killers weren’t the only specialists who came through for the Islanders. The power play — though it didn’t look great — got in on the act, too. Defenseman Nick Leddy scored the Islanders’ first power-play goal of the series to tie it at 1-1.

The power play was a weapon for the Islanders in the qualifying series against Florida, scoring four goals in 16 attempts for a healthy 25% success rate. But in the very physical Game 1 against the Capitals, the Isles were 0-for-4 with the man advantage and rarely looked threatening. In Game 2, they went 1-for-5, which ended up being enough.

“You know, the power play, it’s a funny thing: You can score two times out of 10 and that’s a good power play,’’ forward Jordan Eberle said. “But the other eight times, you have to find a way to create momentum and keep it. That’s the biggest thing, you don’t want to lose it.’’

Beside the Leddy goal, though, the Isles didn’t create much momentum on their power play on Friday. And after they went 0-for-2 in the first period, Trotz changed things up by starting his second power-play unit when Nic Dowd was sent off for high-sticking Eberle at 2:38 of the second period. He used Leddy at the point instead of Devon Toews, and it paid off when Leddy hammered home a low slap shot through traffic that banked in off the post at 2:56.

The Isles got two more power plays in the second period and came up empty, though. They managed just four shots on goal in their five tries with the man advantage, and for the series, they are 1-for-9. But the one was big.

New York Sports