PENGUINS 4 (EN), ISLANDERS 2 — Another Night of Failed Power Plays

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For the second game in a row the Islanders went 0-for-7 on the power play, adding extra difficulty to a game against the division leaders. Now a combined 0-for-14 in the last two games, the power play unit has regressed to a 23.8%* mark and stands in the middle of the pack in the league. They were meant to regress eventually, but it surely wasn’t expected to happen all at once.

* – With a really wacky 8%/54% home/road split

Coming in off a three game tear where the Penguins outscored their opponents 14-4, the Penguins didn’t own this game like a team upset about getting embarrassed at home by these same Islanders last week. They took some bad penalties, and a lot of them, but didn’t dominate the play for much of the even strength parts of the game. Even strength the teams were fairly even matched, with the Penguins having a 20-16 shot advantage 5-on-5. But that’s really not the story of this game.

The story is, of course, the Islanders failures with the man advantage. They spent a full 14 minutes of the game that way, unable to sneak one by Marc Andre Fleury.

By the time Simon Despres put a wrister past Evgeni Nabokov, one the netminder surely wants back, it was 2-0 in the second and the Penguins wouldn’t relinquish the lead despite a late charge from their opponents. Early in the third, Brandon Sutter made it 3-0 for the Penguins burying a 2-on-1 feed from Tyler Kennedy. The play started when an Islander 4-on-3 went back the other way, with a pass from Brad Boyes to John Tavares going awry. Defender Thomas Hickey pressed the net by filling the middle of the ice alongside Tavares and was caught behind the play. From there the Penguins made it look easy, with the Isles lone defender and netminder hung out to dry.

Finally, the Islanders would respond about 90 seconds later. They would break a five-period plus scoring drought at the Coliseum as Michael Grabner kncoked home his fifth of the year off a feed from Kyle Okposo. Whether it was an intentional pass to Grabner or one of those ‘throw it to the front’ type passes from Okposo, we may never know.

35 seconds later the Islanders would add another goal, as Brad Boyes chipped in his third of the year. Boyes would find a rebound in the slot and cooly slip it past Fleury to bring the Islanders within one. They wouldn’t get any closer, with the Penguins icing it on an empty netter later on.

This was one of those games where things were bad and didn’t go right, but a few late goals kept the train from derailing and going off the tracks. Evgeni Nabokov wasn’t the sharpest we’ve seen, that second goal was soft, although the other two were more of the defensive breakdown variety. Michael Grabner continues to score, which is an excellent sign. But the failure of the power play will be a sticking point from now until they can figure out how to crack the code.

And on we go to the Garden on Thursday.