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playoffs

Islanders must be more aggressive on power play

Capuano: New York 'reluctant' with man-advantage

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

The New York Islanders had a chance to race out to an early two-goal lead against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Second Round on Saturday. 

But the Islanders failed to capitalize the two power plays they were awarded before the midway point of the first period and Tyler Johnson had a goal sandwiched between them in Tampa Bay's 4-1 win at Amalie Arena.

The best-of-7 series is tied 1-1 and shifts to Barclays Center for Game 3 on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

Islanders coach Jack Capuano said he felt his first power-play unit tried to be too fancy, looking for the perfect shot. It wasn't until Nikolay Kulemin redirected Thomas Hickey's shot from the point at 15:15 of the first period that New York realized what it needs to do to be successful with the man-advantage. It was the Islanders' only power-play goal Saturday in five opportunities. 

Video: NYI@TBL, Gm2: Kulemin deflects it past Bishop

"Special teams goes up and down all year, there's no question," Capuano said Sunday. "But for us, I think we've prepared well for their pressure. Sometimes it's the mindset. I don't know why we're reluctant. You saw the other unit when they got out there, they got a puck to the net and Kulemin tipped it and it's in the back of the net. 

"You saw [Victor] Hedman's goal on their power play (in the second period), it was going 5-10 feet wide. It hits one of our players and goes in. I think when you struggle a little bit, and you know they're coming, you've just got to simplify it and do the little things. I just think we tried to overhandle it, but we've got a lot of faith in our guys that are out there to do the job moving forward."

One player who is never reluctant to shoot is Islanders defenseman Ryan Pulock, who has been out since sustaining an upper-body injury in Game 4 of the first round against the Florida Panthers. Pulock traveled with the Islanders to Tampa for the start of the second round and could be available as early as Tuesday.

Pulock's slap shot is regularly clocked at more than 100 miles per hour. He had a goal and two assists against Florida prior to the injury.

Video: NYI@TBL, Gm1: Tavares goes top-shelf for PPG

"Guys are going to skate again [Monday]," Capuano said. "We'll kind of see where he's at. We just want to make sure … we have a number of healthy defensemen; Adam Pelech, Brian Strait haven't been in there either. We just want to make sure if we're going to utilize our lineup that we don't lose a guy right off the bat because he's sore. We've been down too many forwards and defensemen this year, three or four minutes into a game. We'll see his status. He's definitely one of the guys I thought played well before the injury."

Whether Pulock is ready to return or not, Capuano will stress prior to the Game 3 the importance of not only shooting when the opportunity presents itself, but also having someone in front for a potential screen or redirection, much like the way the Islanders scored their only goal Saturday.

"Watching that game tape again [Saturday] night and going through it, there are periods in that game, for whatever reason, we were just reluctant to get net presence or shoot pucks to the net," Capuano said. "That's something that we've just got to concentrate on doing a little bit more of and know what makes us successful. But they play the game.

 "They've watched plenty of tape. They know what Tampa is doing and how hard they're going to come. We've just got to execute."

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