The highs and lows of the power play and penalty kill have been a talking point all season, but both aspects of the NY Islanders special teams were clicking last night.
In the 3-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers, the Isles scored all three goals on either the power play or while short-handed. After a goal from Leon Draisaitl on the first shot of the night, it looked like the Islanders would be in for a long night, as the Oilers were buzzing in the offensive zone. Heading into the second period trailing by one, Anders Lee got the Isles on the board while on the man advantage - finding himself on the top unit once again after Kyle Palmieri was recovering from a shot taken off his leg.
A second power play goal, this time from Bo Horvat, after some nifty passing from Brock Nelson gave the Isles the advantage for the first time on the night.
The third goal of the period came from the short-handed wizard himself, Simon Holmstrom. Finding himself 2-on-1 alongside JG Pageau, Pageau slipped a pass through to Holmstrom, who buried his league-leading fifth short-handed goal of the season.
According to ESPN, the Isles three special teams goals were their most in a period since 2018.
On the other end of the ice, the Isles were a perfect 4/4 on the penalty kill against the league's most productive power play of all time from a year ago. The Isles 32nd ranked penalty kill managed to stymie Connor McDavid and company, looking like the PK of old.
Penalties from Brock Nelson and Robert Bortuzzo gave the Oilers a two-man advantage for 58 seconds shortly after Holmstrom's goal. It appeared as if the Oilers were going to cut into the deficit due to their prowess on the PP and the Islanders' uncanny ability to give up goals shortly after scoring one themselves. They managed to kill off the 5-on-3 and the ensuing 5-on-4 to maintain the lead and close out the game in the third.
"The commitment means winning your battles, clearing the puck, and blocking shots,” said Pageau after the PK’s perfect night. “You saw a lot of that tonight, and it's not only one guy. I think everyone chipped in. That was a really good team win."
The Isles PP is now fifth in the league, clicking at 26.4%, but the PK remains in the league basement at 72%.
The PP has shown little signs of slowing down, and the PK has to draw confidence from shutting down one of the league's best power play units. If the PP can remain constant and the PK be just average, the Isles are bound to see themselves more in the win column as opposed to racking up the overtime losses.