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Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Islanders’ power play crucial vs. Penguins

Special teams were always expected to play a role in the Islanders-Penguins first-round series, considering how both teams measure up against one another.

Pittsburgh owned a top-four power play during the regular season, while the Isles ranked 21st in the league. The Islanders posted a solid 83.7 percent penalty kill, with the Penguins sitting in the bottom five.

Neither team capitalized on the power play in Game 1, but the Islanders whiffed on a four-minute man-advantage at a crucial time that could’ve saved them a trip to overtime. When Jeff Carter earned a double-minor for high-sticking Brock Nelson at 12:25 of the second period, the Isles were granted their lone power play of the game while trailing 2-1.

But the team spent most of the four-minute man-advantage flailing through the neutral zone and struggling to set up in the offensive zone, generating just two shots.

“We didn’t execute,” coach Barry Trotz said on Monday. “I thought we got spread out a little bit. Our releases and our exits weren’t clean and, therefore, they were able to get sticks and get into those battles and break up plays and break up your next pass. They were able to anticipate that, jump us, and we didn’t move it quick enough.

“It’s all about executing very quickly against their pressure. Our entries, our retrievals and moving it to our options, we didn’t do it quick enough and with the execution that we needed and, therefore, we didn’t get anything done.”

Brock Nelson and the Islanders couldn’t make use of their only power play opportunity in Game 1.Getty Images

On the other hand, the Islanders went 3-for-3 on the penalty kill, limiting the Penguins to just three shots on goal.

Goaltender Semyon Varlamov, who was scratched with a lower-body injury in Game 1, is available for Tuesday’s rematch in Pittsburgh, according to Trotz.

Anders Lee is the Islanders’ nominee for the 2020-21 King Clancy Memorial Trophy, which is presented to “the power who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community.”

Anders LeeCharles Wenzelberg / New York Post

“There’s athletes that have a presence, I think since we made him captain, it’s just grown,” Trotz said of Lee, who was ruled out for the rest of the season with an ACL injury in mid-March. “He always had it, he probably held back a little bit with not being captain for a few years. But since we made him captain, you see the growth and why he’d be nominated for this award.

“From a captain standpoint, he’s the last person who thinks about himself. He thinks about team first, other players, families, all that. And then also the community. He loves the Island, he loves helping people. That’s just sort of in his DNA. “

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