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John Kreiser | NHL.com columnist
Jan 19, 2007, 12:00 PM EST


The number of power plays is down somewhat this season, but that doesn’t mean shooters aren’t finding the net, especially at home.

Through 698 games this season, teams were converting at a 17.7 percentage — matching the success rate of last season. Home teams were enjoying more success (19.2 percent, up from 18.7), while visiting teams weren’t doing as well (16.0 percent, down from 16.6).

The success rate over the last two seasons is a sizeable jump from the 16.5 percent showing in the 2003-04 season, the last one before the lockout, and the best since teams converted 17.9 percent of their chances in 1995-96. And though the average of 10.4 power plays per game was down 11 percent from last season, it’s still the most since 1992-93, when the average was 10.6 per game. This season’s figure is almost two more power plays per game than were called in 2003-04, when there was an average of 8.5 per contest — capping a nine-season stretch in which power plays per game ranged from 8.1 (1999-2000) to 9.3 (1997-98).

These Sharks bite -- One reason the power-play numbers are staying high is the success of the San Jose Sharks. Before going 0-for-3 against Phoenix Thursday night, San Jose had scored at least one power-play goal in seven-straight games and gone 19-for-31, a 51.4 success rate, in that span. Overall, they’re 63 for 241, a success rate of 26.1 percent, a figure no team has exceeded over a full season since Calgary converted 27.7 percent of its chances in 1988-89 — and a vast improvement over last season’s 18.2 percent, which was the best in the Sharks’ franchise history.

The 5-2 win over the Coyotes also extended the Sharks’ NHL record for consecutive games without going to overtime. San Jose has played 46-straight games decided in regulation since beating St. Louis on opening night. It’s the longest single-season streak since NHL resumed overtime in 1983-84. The previous mark was 41 games by Toronto in 1996-97.

OT woes -- The Florida Panthers probably wish they were as successful as the Sharks in deciding games in regulation. The Panthers are a league worst 0-10 in games decided after regulation time (0-4 in overtime, 0-6 in shootouts). They are the only team that has not won a game after regulation.

Eight of the 10 post-regulation losses have come against Eastern Conference rivals, and those missing points are a big reason the Panthers are 14th among the 15 teams. Shootouts have been a particular nightmare: Florida shooters are just 3-for-26 (11.5 percent, 26th among 29 teams that have been involved in shootouts), while opponents have scored on 11 of 26 shots (42.3 percent, 22nd). The Panthers have as many road victories (5) as shootout losses (5) away from home.

On track -- Montreal defenseman Sheldon Souray continues to close in on the record for power-play goals for a defenseman. Souray connected for his 13th Thursday night in the Canadiens’ 4-1 victory over Atlanta. With 34 games left on the schedule, he’s now just five PPGs short of the NHL record of 18 by a defenseman, set in 1974-75 by the Islanders’ Denis Potvin and matched by Adrian Aucoin with Vancouver in 1998-99.

Revenge is sweet -- The Philadelphia Flyers beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 1-0 in their first meeting on Oct. 19, 1967, and have dominated their in-state rivals for most of the 39 seasons they’ve played since then. But the Penguins are finally getting a little revenge. Pittsburgh is 6-0 against the Flyers this season, the first time the Pens have ever won six in a row in any stretch against Philadelphia. Three of the wins have been in Philadelphia, the first time the Penguins have ever won there three times in the same season — no mean feat in a city where they once went more than 15 years between victories and had won only 18 times in nearly 40 years.

The New York Islanders have also gotten a little revenge against their biggest rivals, the Rangers. The Isles are 4-0 against the Rangers this season, have won five in a row against their big-city rival for the first time ever, and are 3-0 at Madison Square Garden — the first time they’ve won three in a season at the Garden.

Beasts of the East -- The Vancouver Canucks were placed in the East Division when they entered the NHL in 1970. Too bad they’re not still there, because they’ve beaten up on Eastern Conference teams during the past two seasons. Thursday night’s 2-1 victory in Ottawa gave the Canucks a 6-1-0 record against the East this season, entering Saturday night’s game in Buffalo. They were 9-1-0 against the East last season — and their 15-2-0 record is the best of any team against the other conference under the scheduling format that began in 2005-06. The Canucks have outscored Eastern opponents 23-12 this season, including 12-2 in the first three games of a swing through the Northeast Division.

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