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Isles' penalty kill lets them down

Evgeni Nabokov of the Islanders reacts after he

Evgeni Nabokov of the Islanders reacts after he was called for a penalty against the Rangers. (March 11, 2012) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

At one point this season, the Islanders had a top-10 power play and a top-10 penalty kill.

Those days, like a lot of things in this Islanders season, are distant memories.

The Islanders surrendered three power-play goals Sunday night for the first time all season, the last of which clinched a 4-3 overtime loss to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

The Islanders had allowed only 23 power-play goals against them in their first 52 games; in the 17 games since, they've surrendered 17 power-play goals. Sunday night marked the fifth time in that span that the Isles allowed at least two power-play goals in a game.

"When our PK is going well, our team is going well," defenseman Travis Hamonic said. "You can read between the lines on that one the way we're going now."

The mistakes on the penalty kill were different each time. Hamonic and Andrew MacDonald gave Brad Richards far too much space to cruise through the neutral zone and into the Islanders' zone to zip a shot past Evgeni Nabokov late in the first period to tie the score.

Richards' second power-play goal came with Brian Boyle providing a screen in front as Milan Jurcina failed to keep the crease clear.

The overtime mistake was the product of a poor decision by Hamonic, who stuck out his leg to take down Richards and give the Rangers a sixth power play.

The Devils beat the Islanders on Saturday night with a late power-play goal, and Sunday night's extra point went to the Rangers on the power play. That all adds up to an ineffective penalty-killing unit, one that once was as high as eighth in the league and now is ranked 22nd, and sinking.

"Our special teams were good for a while," coach Jack Capuano said, "but we've gotten away from it and we're taking things for granted."

The Islanders did convert one power-play goal on a lucky bounce off the end boards that went right down to Matt Moulson's stick. But the Isles got a gift power play late after the Rangers drew a too-many-men minor with 6:43 to go. They did nothing with the advantage.

"We're trying to be too cute," Capuano said.

The Islanders scored their power-play goal with P.A. Parenteau in the dressing room getting a concussion exam after Derek Stepan's stick clocked Parenteau on the chin. Hamonic manned the right point and gave the Isles a shooting threat they have lacked on the first power-play unit.

The power play is 2-for-32 in the last 11 games, another reason why the Islanders are 14th overall in the Eastern Conference.

"We've got the guys to get it done, and we know it because we were getting it done for a while there," Parenteau said.

The power play was ranked as high as fifth this season and first on the road; it now is 13th in the league.

"When the power play's not scoring," Hamonic said, "the penalty kill has to do its job. We haven't had it going at either end."

New York Sports