Ryan Pulock teed up his blast from the right circle, maybe not his hardest shot but certainly harder than many NHL players can take. The sound of the puck slamming off goalie Jonas Johansson’s pad echoed through the nearly empty Nassau Coliseum.
Most everything has gone right lately for the East Division-leading Islanders, who have won five straight and are on a 7-0-1 streak entering Tuesday night’s game against the Bruins as they continue a five-game homestand.
And Pulock did notch his 10th assist in Sunday’s third straight 5-2 win over the Sabres. But his loud shot off the rush at 3:46 of the third period, one of the defenseman’s three shots in an otherwise efficient 23:30, left Pulock without a goal this season even though he’s tied for fifth on the team with 48 shots.
Pulock matched a career high last season with 10 goals.
"It’s definitely something I think about," he told Newsday. "Being more of a two-way, offensive guy, I want to help out offensively. I want to chip in. But at the same time, if I look at my game and I’m honest with myself, I feel my game is in a really good spot. I’m playing pretty well and contributing to the success the team is having in other ways.
"I can’t get down on myself," added Pulock, who agreed to a two-year, $10 million extension before this season. "I can’t get frustrated with myself. I’ve just got to keep doing the right things and playing the right way. I think it will happen and hopefully there will be one that goes in."
Pulock further described it as "just one of those funks where I don’t get the bounce."
Or he misses by an inch or less.
For instance, his rocket off the crossbar in the first period of a 2-1 win over the Devils at Prudential Center on March 2 might have been his hardest shot of the season.
"That was definitely one of my harder ones," said Pulock, chuckling when sympathy for the crossbar was conveyed to him. "I definitely got all of that one."
But the Islanders’ consistent play has tempered any individual frustration Pulock may be experiencing.
"If you look at our team over the last 2 1⁄2 years, we’ve been able to stay pretty consistent," he said. "We’ve had a few stretches where we haven’t been as strong. Right now, we’re comfortable with the way we’re playing and we try to bring that every night. We have a pretty mature group that understands what it takes and we just try to play the exact same way every night."
Tuesday will mark a step up in competition after three straight games against the last-place Sabres.
The Islanders, who did not practice on Monday, have won their first three against the Bruins, all played at the Coliseum. That’s half of the Bruins’ six regulation losses.
Notes & quotes: The Islanders’ Barry Trotz will become the third coach in NHL history to reach 1,700 games on Tuesday. The others are Scotty Bowman (2,141) and Joel Quenneville (1,729).
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