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Islanders still need to fix their penalty kill

Cal Clutterbuck #15 of the New York Islanders

Cal Clutterbuck #15 of the New York Islanders takes the ice with his teammates for a game against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

The Islanders head into Monday's matinee visit by the Flyers ready to put Saturday night's messy loss behind them. With the Isles at 30-14-1 heading into their final game before the All-Star break, they certainly should be able to get past a rare poor performance.

The Islanders haven't been able to shake off their seasonlong malaise on the penalty kill, though. They allowed power-play goals on their first two penalties Saturday night in Montreal, just as they had Friday night against the Penguins.

The Isles did kill off two penalties later in the 6-4 loss to the Canadiens, but their success rate for the season is 74.6 percent, 28th in the league.

"I think the last three were post and in. Sometimes those find a way through," Cal Clutterbuck said. "It's hard to really pinpoint one thing that might be to blame."

Like David Perron's first-period goal Friday that gave the Penguins a 2-0 lead, the two Canadiens power-play scores were one-timers, by P.K. Subban and Tomas Plekanec. The solution could be as simple as forwards getting into shooting lanes or defensemen clearing a path for Jaroslav Halak to get his eyes on the shots. But those solutions haven't presented themselves the past two games.

The Islanders' penalty-killers haven't struggled all season long; they had killed off 27 of 29 power plays in the 14 games before Friday's. That solid streak illustrates how much the penalty kill did struggle in the first 25 games of the season, when the unit was barely above 70-percent efficiency and hovering around the bottom of the league rankings.

It is the only aspect of the Islanders' vastly improved game that still lingers from last season, when they were ranked 29th at 78.1 percent.

"The last couple games, the opposition's done a good job of getting pucks to the net," Jack Capuano said. "It's something we have to clean up. For us to have success, our special teams have to be better."

Notes & quotes: Mikhail Grabovski (lower body) practiced Sunday after missing the last five games. Lubomir Visnovsky (upper body) did not skate and remains on injured reserve.

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