Who's Your Daddy? No Okposo No Problem; Isles Win Big
On a night that was called “the greatest night of my life” by the new first time dad Kyle Okposo, his teammate and good friend John Tavares had one of the best nights statistically of his brief NHL career.
Tavares tallied a hat trick and added 2 assists for a monster 5-point output helping the Islanders come back and defeat the Dallas Stars in front of a rowdy crowd at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The victory helped the Isles take two of three games of their quick home stand and has the squad trending upward before a brutal six game road trip.
The Islanders increased their record to 15-22-7, while the Stars fell to 20-15-7.
The night did not start well, however, as the Stars began the scoring when newly recalled Matt Donovan inexplicably passed the puck directly to Dallas’ Jamie Benn right in front of the Islanders net and easily lit the lamp for the first goal of what turned out to be a wild night.
Minutes after Benn’s goal, Evgeni Nabokov would leave the game after trying to tough out an injury that stopped play briefly. Nabokov seemed to do something to his right side, but it is officially listed as a lower body injury and was immediately placed on IR. Kevin Poulin replaced Nabokov for only his second game action since December 12th.
Erik Cole greeted the new net-minder quickly on the first shot he saw. Cole beat Poulin low to the blocker side right off of the face-off that was never seen by Poulin.
The game began with both teams buzzing but only the Stars were finishing and after one period the Isles were held scoreless. The 2nd period was a far different story.
Ryan Strome finally got the monkey off of his back as he slammed home a rebound while he manned the front of the net on the power play. Thomas Vanek was credited with the primary assist on the rookie’s first career NHL goal and extended his personal best point streak to 9 games.
Tavares tied a game a few minutes later on another pretty feed from Vanek. Peter Regin, an extreme disappointment, took the lead for New York, but that was short lived as Valeri Nichushkin put a power play goal past Poulin to tie the contest up at 3. This would be the last goal the Stars would score.
Brock Nelson closed out the 2nd period slicing and dicing through the Dallas defense and beat Kari Lehtonen top shelf. This was the first 4-goal period for the Isles since last January and also was the first time they completed this feat at home since 2011.
The final period was all Islanders as they collected a goal from defenseman Brian Strait and a pair of power play scores from Captain Tavares to complete his magical night.
15-4-2 is now the Islanders record when scoring 3 or more goals in a game this season. So much for all of the Isles struggles being because of their defense, right?
The Islanders begin their 2-week road trip tonight in Toronto and they must continue to get pucks at the net if they want to continue to climb in the standings.