Islanders’ lineup changes give boost to power play


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EDMONTON, Alberta — Even after an eight-game scoring drought on the power play had broken, the Islanders still struggled to get the intended results at five-on-four one game later on Sunday.

It wasn’t so much that they failed to score in two tries on the power play against Seattle, though a goal surely would have been welcome in a 4-1 loss. It was that they were outshot 3-1 across four minutes, their own power play sucking the momentum out of their game. That finally looked fixed on Tuesday in Vancouver, when two power-play tries produced three high-danger chances, four shots on net and a Jean-Gabriel Pageau goal against the Canucks in a 6-2 victory.

All it took was for Lane Lambert to do something he had ruled out a week prior, and shuffle the five-on-four units.

Pageau stayed at the bumper spot on the top unit, but Ryan Pulock ran the point with Josh Bailey and Mathew Barzal at the half-walls and Zach Parise playing the net front. Noah Dobson played atop the second unit with Hudson Fasching stationed at the slot, Anthony Beauvillier and Brock Nelson at the circles and Anders Lee at the crease.

Casey Cizikas (right) celebrates with Ilya Sorokin during the Islanders’ 6-2 win over the Canucks.

“I think there’s a little bit of, call it growing or familiarity that needs to come,” Lambert said. “But I did think that in watching, the mentality was to try and get the puck to the net more. That’s what happened when we scored.”

The Islanders had struggled with that, as well as with entering the zone in control of the puck — twin pillars of any reasonably competent power play. Whether this represents a long-term answer or a temporary salve will only become clear in time, but the team’s 18.97 conversion percentage on the power play is its biggest bugaboo with the season nearly at its halfway point.

And though it does feel good off Tuesday’s win, it is worth noting that the Canucks rank dead last on the penalty kill in the league. Before they go back home, the Islanders will see another struggling four-on-five outfit in Edmonton (72.86 percent) and a top-10 one in Calgary (81.63 percent).

“I don’t think it really matters who’s where,” said Pageau, who got on Pulock’s rebound to score against Vancouver. “It changes a little bit, sometimes, our tendencies. I thought tonight we created some momentum on the power play.We put a lot of pucks on net.”

Edmonton’s Connor McDavid has 13 points in 12 career games against the Islanders. His fellow superstar Leon Draisaitl has 11 in 12. … Oilers winger Evander Kane (wrist) has skated, but was still described as day-to-day by coach Jay Woodcroft.

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