Tavares Hat Trick Leads Isles 5-1 Triumph Over New Jersey

The Islanders hosted fellow Atlantic Divison rivals, the New Jersey Devils, on Saturday night at the Nassau Coliseum. The Isles evened up the season series at two-a-piece in another explosive game by John Tavares and the lethal power play unit.
Tavares led the way through this one, scoring his 4th career hat trick and adding an assist to the 5-1 win over New Jersey. Matt Moulson assisted on all three of Tavares’ goals, in addition to scoring one of his own, giving both of them 4-point games.
The first period of the game remained scoreless, as each team saw exceptional goaltending and a number of scoring chances.
The Isles got their second penalty shot of the season when David Ullstrom was hooked by New Jersey’s Henrik Tallinder. Ullstrom, after being a healthy scratch in Thursday’s game against the Rangers, backhanded one off the crossbar to send both teams to the locker room at 0-0.
The gaImage previewme continued to be a tight defensive battle until the Isles exploded 16:46 into the second period. On a 3-2 rush, Brad Boyes threw the puck off Hedberg’s far pad where John Tavares was right on the doorstep to knock it in. (Photo Credit: chiefx70/flickr)
The Islanders were not quite ready to go into the locker room just yet.
The Devil’s captain, Bryce Salvador, took a high sticking penalty a little over a minute after the Tavares goal to send the Isles on a power play. John Tavares passed to Matt Moulson below the goal line, who fed it back up front where Tavares once again knocked it through Hedberg, giving the Isles a 2-0 lead.
With just over a minute left in the second, the Isles were once again on the man advantage after Henrik Tallinder tripped up Kyle Okposo. Tavares poked the puck behind the net to Brad Boyes, who fed a waiting Moulson in front to give the Islanders a 3-0 lead heading into the 2nd intermission.
A little over halfway through the third, the Devils would notch their only goal of the evening. After Mark Streit was called for holding, Marek Zidlicky fired a rocket past Evgeni Nabakov, tightening the score to 3-1.
Any hope of a typical Islanders third period collapse was quickly shattered.
One second before an Isles 5-on-3 power play ended, Tavares wristed a beauty past Hedberg. Scoring his 4th career hat trick and 3rd on home ice, Tavares solidified a 4-point game for himself, as well as line mate Matt Moulson.
With under a minute left in the third, Michael Grabner skated through New Jersey’s defense, where Hedberg came out too far and inevitably caused Marek Zidlicky to kick the puck into his own net. Grabner, scoring his sixth goal of the season, gave the Isles a final score of 5-1 for the victory.
Aside from the stellar play of the first line, who combined for a total of 10 points, there were other key factors for the Islander’s success on Saturday night.
Evgeni Nabakov, who improves to 6-5-1 this season, was undeniably sharp. Nabby made 30 saves and his poise in net held off the Devil’s, giving the Isles a chance to exercise their offense.
John Tavares is now tied with James Neal of Pittsburgh and Thomas Vanek of Buffalo for most goals scored this season, at 11. After going scoreless in his first four games this season, he now has 11 goals in 10 games and is on a 5-game goal scoring streak.
The Islanders look to further their 2-game streak against Atlantic Division teams, when they face the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday. The President’s Day matinee game will take place at the Nassau Coliseum at 1pm.

-T.J. Weber


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