70° Good Afternoon
70° Good Afternoon

Special teams have been hurting Islanders

Head coach Jack Capuano of the New York

Head coach Jack Capuano of the New York Islanders looks on in the third period against the Chicago Blackhawks at Barclays Center on Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016 in Brooklyn, New York. Credit: Jim McIsaac

BOSTON — There have been many holes to plug for the Islanders this season. They don’t need one Little Dutch Boy to plug the dike, they need many. You don’t sink to last in the Eastern Conference and 28th overall without multiple areas of concern.

For Jack Capuano, special teams and goaltending stand out. You need both to succeed, he often says. At the least, you need one working to cover up the shortcomings of the other.

Right now, carrying a five-game losing streak into Tuesday night’s game against the Bruins, the Islanders are getting very little from either area. Monday’s practice addressed special teams, with the 30th-ranked power play (12.8 percent) and the 26th-ranked penalty kill (78.1 percent and falling) getting the bulk of the ice time.

“The key for me was they got one [on the power play] when they needed it and we didn’t,” Capuano said after the Islanders dropped a 6-2 decision to the Senators on Sunday at Barclays Center.

Less than a minute after Anthony Beauvillier pulled the Isles even, Mark Stone scored on a rebound on the power play to restore Ottawa’s lead entering the third period.

Third periods have been brutal for the Islanders, but they began Sunday’s third period with 1:12 of power-play time. They generated zero shots on goal and soon after fell behind by two.

The penalty kill has been a roller coaster: It started the season 21-for-22, then went 20-for-32 in an eight-game stretch, during which the Islanders were 2-4-2. The unit then went 34-for-36 in a 12-game stretch and the team went 6-3-3. Now, back in the valley, the Isles have allowed eight goals in the last 15 times shorthanded in the last five games.

The power play has been consistent all season, but not in the way one would hope. It has produced a league-low 11 goals in 86 chances and no games with more than one power-play goal.

“Special teams and goaltending,” Capuano said Sunday. “We haven’t gotten enough from either.”

J-F Berube started Friday and Sunday, his first two starts of the season. He allowed seven goals and lost both games, so it appears Capuano is back to the drawing board in search of one of his three goaltenders to seize the day.

“We just have to come to work, stay positive and try to get out of this,” John Tavares said. “That’s the only way.”

Notes & quotes: Defenseman Adam Pelech (upper body) skated Monday and remained with the team as the holiday roster freeze went into effect at 11:59 Monday night. Pelech can’t be sent down until the team reconvenes after the Dec. 24-26 break. He might be ready to play Friday when the Isles host the Sabres.

New York Sports