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Coming Through In The Clutch

Islanders special teams has performed admirably recently to win games

Wednesday, 04.03.2013 / 6:33 PM / News
By Travis Betts
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Coming Through In The Clutch
Islanders special teams has performed admirably recently to win games
Marty Reasoner has been a key part of the Islanders penalty kill this season (Photo: Getty Images)

Frans Nielsen’s second period goal Tuesday against Winnipeg was significant for a number of reasons. For one, it came with 28 seconds remaining in the second period and gave the Islanders a 3-2 lead heading into the intermission. But it also came on the only power play the Islanders saw all night and shifted momentum into the home team’s favor for the rest of the contest.

The genesis of the goal was something Head Coach Jack Capuano has preached all season: taking shots. Mark Streit’s point blast ricocheted off Josh Bailey in front of the goal, forcing a Winnipeg defenseman to turn away from Nielsen, who used the open space to quickly bury the rebound in the back of the net.

“Our power play is not going to change,” Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano said. “Our mentality is to get pucks to the net. We did that the other night (at New Jersey) and we did it last night. That’s how we generate our offense. Systematically, every PK has a system that they use. But when pucks are around that dirty area, it’s game on. We have to continue to gain entry to the zone and shoot pucks when we have the opportunity to do so.”

Monday night against the Devils, the power play went 1-for-2, scoring when Lubomir Visnovsky threw a puck on net, setting up a rebound opportunity that John Tavares converted into a goal. Right wing Brad Boyes was on ice for that marker, which gave the Islanders a 3-1 lead midway through the third period and firm control of the game.

“The power play has been the difference at times,” Boyes said. “With the way our team is built, those timely goals are needed. In each of the last two games, we’ve put pucks on net, they’ve bounced to our guys, and we’ve had wide open nets.”

Special teams situations have been in short supply this season, which only emphasizes their importance. On three occasions this season, the Islanders power play units haven’t even taken the ice. Seven times in the last 11 games, the Islanders have had two opportunities or less on the man advantage. In those seven games, the Islanders are 4-for-10 on the power play, with all strikes except Tavares’ insurance tally against New Jersey proving to be game-winners.

“I think down the stretch you’re going to see more of that,” Capuano said of the lack of special teams scenarios. “Games are tighter. Guys are playing hard.”

Marty Reasoner, a key element of the Islanders penalty kill, added to Capuano’s point.

“Coming out of the last lockout (in 2004-05), there was a big emphasis on goals, and there was a bit of overkill with calling penalties,” Reasoner said. “It seemed like there’d be eight power plays for each side a night. But I think guys are a little more cautious now. Also, the refs are letting the players decide the games rather than deciding them with too many penalties.”

Reasoner and co. have killed all four power plays their opponents have had over the last three games. Winnipeg and New Jersey each had one man advantage, and neither team registered a shot on goal.

“There aren’t that many penalties, so every goal gets magnified that much more,” Reasoner said. “We haven’t given too many opportunities. If we only get two penalty kill situations a night, and we give up one or two goals, it’s a huge swing. If you can be good on the PK, it can be good for your momentum and demoralizing for their power play.”

The Islanders penalty kill has a tough test Thursday, when they take on the Washington Capitals on the road. The Capitals have the second-best power play in the league at 24.6%, but went 0-for-3 the last time the teams met on March 26, a 3-2 win for the Islanders.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 62 41 16 5 171 135 87
2 NYI 64 41 21 2 205 179 84
3 NYR 61 38 17 6 192 152 82
4 TBL 64 38 20 6 210 171 82
5 DET 61 35 15 11 180 159 81
6 PIT 62 36 17 9 181 155 81
7 WSH 64 34 20 10 188 159 78
8 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
9 FLA 63 28 22 13 154 178 69
10 PHI 63 27 25 11 168 183 65
11 OTT 60 27 23 10 171 163 64
12 NJD 63 26 27 10 141 164 62
13 CBJ 62 26 32 4 160 196 56
14 CAR 61 24 30 7 142 162 55
15 TOR 63 25 33 5 170 193 55
16 BUF 63 19 39 5 123 212 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 64 30 35 4 65
K. Okposo 46 14 30 -2 44
R. Strome 64 14 27 22 41
B. Nelson 64 17 19 7 36
F. Nielsen 64 11 25 12 36
A. Lee 58 20 13 13 33
J. Bailey 52 12 19 10 31
J. Boychuk 54 7 23 16 30
N. Leddy 64 8 18 15 26
T. Hamonic 54 4 21 15 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 33 13 0 .911 2.46
C. Johnson 8 8 1 .889 3.08

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