Islanders search for answers to recent power-play slump
TEMPE, Ariz. – Lane Lambert wasn’t willing to entertain any suggestion the Islanders’ power play hasn’t been consistent enough.
“Our power play has been good,” the coach said after the Islanders opened a season-long, five-game road trip with a 4-3 shootout loss in Boston on Tuesday night.
The Bruins took a 3-2 lead late in the second period with a shorthanded goal on an Islanders’ man-advantage chance Mathew Barzal dubbed, “Brutal,” because of too many neutral-zone turnovers and failed entries into the offensive zone.
“It’s been running over 30%, 25% in the last 14 games so I’m not going to say anything bad about our power play, that’s for sure,” Lambert said.
Nearly every practice or non-optional morning skate includes time working on special teams. That will almost certainly be the case on Thursday when the Islanders (17-12-1) practice at 5,000-seat Mullett Arena before facing the Coyotes on Friday night at their temporary, very tiny (by NHL standards) home on the Arizona State campus.
The Islanders went 0-for-3 with just one shot on the power play against the NHL-best Bruins, whose penalty kill is ranked first in the NHL.
“They’ve got a good PK,” said Josh Bailey, on the ice with a second power-play unit when Bruins defenseman Derek Forbort scored the shorthanded goal. “They’re putting pressure on. Some rolling pucks. Some bouncing pucks. You’re going to get those once in a while. You would like to keep them from finding a way to score on you. I’m sure we’ll get a couple of shorthanded goals over the course of the year.”
“It wasn’t a great power play,” defenseman Noah Dobson said. “They have a good PK. They were on us pretty good. Our execution wasn’t great. When teams are pressuring you hard, your execution has to be a little better than that. We’ll learn from it and get better on the power play for Friday.
Tuesday’s power-play woes left the Islanders 2-for-14 (14.2%) over their last five games. To Lambert’s point, they are 12-for-43 (27.9%) over the last 14 games with power-play goals in 10 of those games.
Overall, the Islanders rank 18th in the NHL on the power play at 20-for-90 (22.2%). The Oilers lead the NHL at 34-for-108 (31.5%).
The Islanders’ power-play uptick coincided with – but was not coincidental to – Lambert placing Jean-Gabriel Pageau in the bumper position between the circles on the first unit.
“I think our power play has been pretty solid,” Dobson said. “If you look at the last 10 games, I think we’ve scored in eight out of 10 of them on the power play. There are good penalty killers in this league. You’re not going to score every night. We’ll try to get back on the board on Friday.”
Notes & quotes: The Islanders did not practice on Wednesday as they traveled to Arizona. So there was no update on whether D Adam Pelech (suspected head injury), who has missed three games, rejoined his teammates on the road after not traveling to Boston.