The Islanders have had a few good stretches with their penalty-killing this season, but they've been overshadowed by longer bad stretches.
On Sunday night, the bad took over again after a stretch of good, helping turn a winnable game in the Canucks' favor. Two power-play goals in the first half of the second period gave Vancouver a boost and the Islanders flubbed away two golden chances in the same span.
The 4-0 loss to the Canucks hurt plenty. Not only was it the Islanders' first time being shut out at home this season, but the Penguins and Rangers both won, closing the Isles' Metropolitan Division lead to two points over the Rangers and three over the Penguins.
"We had our chances and we didn't bury 'em,'' Johnny Boychuk said. "We didn't play bad, but we didn't play good enough to win.''
Zack Kassian's power-play slap shot hit the post, hit Jaroslav Halak's back and crawled over the goal line 28 seconds into the second period to open the scoring. It was the first power-play goal allowed by the Islanders in 14 times short in the last six games.
At 1:11, Canucks goaltender Ryan Miller left the game with an apparent right leg injury after teammate Jannik Hansen barreled into Miller on an Islanders scoring chance. Eddie Lack came off the bench cold and the Islanders immediately seemed to have the tying score.
Anders Lee pulled a bouncing puck off a Vancouver player's stick and sent a pass across to Josh Bailey, alone behind Lack with only the net beckoning. But Bailey's tap-in went back underneath the goaltender, who went down and covered the puck with his glove.
Soon after, with a short five-on-three advantage, Ryan Strome had a similar look. John Tavares dished to Strome at the side of the net with Lack still moving into position, but Strome didn't get enough on what seemed like a slam dunk and Lack covered it up.
"There's many moments that can change the complexion of a game, and we get a goal there, we get our crowd into it,'' Tavares said of the Islanders' 16th sellout in 28 home games. "We had plenty of chances. You have to capitalize.''
Kael Mouillierat, playing his second NHL game, already had sunk low when he was in the penalty box for Kassian's score. He likely sank lower when he cross-checked Linden Vey to send the Canucks to the power play again at 9:01.
After some nifty passing around the perimeter, Radim Vrbata beat Halak stick side from the left circle at 9:53, marking the 12th time in the Islanders' 61 games that they've allowed more than one power-play goal in a game.
"Special teams was the name of the game,'' Jack Capuano said. "They got two on the power play and we didn't get any. That was the game.''
Bo Horvat found a spot in the middle of the Islanders' defensive-zone structure to snap a shot past Halak at 13:55 of the second, piling on in that ugly middle period.
The Islanders controlled the third period, pumping 19 shots on Lack but getting nowhere.
After concluding a brutal week of five games in seven nights at 2-2-1, they were unwilling to say the heavy schedule took a toll.
"It was a heck of a week, but I think we had some jump,'' Tavares said. "You have to be ready to execute.''