3. Islanders special teams were excellent again
On Saturday, Anders Lee scored the game-winner in the third period to help the Islanders beat the Pittsburgh Penguins with a late power-play goal. Monday, it was the Islanders penalty kill that helped to push them over the top against the Rangers.
In particular, the Islanders second penalty-kill unit, comprised of J.G. Pageau, Leo Komarov, Andy Greene, and Ryan Pulock were incredibly strong. The penalty killers stopped the Rangers from setting up in the Islander zone for any extended periods of time and allowed no shot attempts in their 4v5 TOI.
In total, Islanders penalty-killers surrendered four total shot attempts, with one shot blocked by Andy Greene, who cleared the puck down the ice to finish the game.
The Islanders special teams need to continue to play well and come up big in crucial moments. The penalty kill especially needs to remain reliable as it has throughout the early parts of this season. This Islanders team, with a poor penalty-kill and below-average 5v5 offense, simply can’t afford to have to make up ground lost due to surrendering power-play goals.
That isn’t to say that this Islanders penalty-kill has stifled the best man-advantage units league-wide. The Rangers, surprisingly, rank 24th in power-play conversion rate at 13.6%, which is nearly four percent lower than the Islanders’ 19th-ranked power-play.
We’ve all seen how poor the Islanders’ power-play has looked. Some nights it’s hard to believe there exists a unit worse than them in the NHL. But the Rangers man-advantage has been consistently worse throughout 2020-21.
So, like on Saturday vs. Pittsburgh, this unit didn’t make the difference against elite opposition. But, they’ve contributed in key moments, and that has been the difference in the last two outcomes.