UNIONDALE, N.Y. (Feb. 16, 2013) – On Saturday, John Tavares tallied a hat trick, and an assist, leading the New York Islanders to a 5-1 win versus the New Jersey Devils in an Atlantic Division tilt at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y. As a result, the Isles got their second win in a row, and improved to a record of 6-7-1 on the season. Meanwhile, the Devils dipped to 9-3-3 overall, and have now lost two of three.
Despite a scoreless first frame, New York certainly had their chances to get on the board. Just 1:03 into the period, Brad Boyes was robbed by New Jersey starting goalie Johan Hedberg, on a put-back attempt off a rebound created by Matt Moulson. Later on, David Ullstrom was dragged down on a breakaway, and the linesman called for a penalty shot. But, Ullstrom’s attempt hit the bar, after beating Hedberg on the backhand.
During the second period, both netminders continued their dazzling play. Hedberg and Isles’ starting goalie Evgeni Nabokov had combined for 38 saves, before the Isles broke the deadlock with 3:18 remaining. On the rush, Boyes put the puck off Hedberg’s right pad, which rebounded to Tavares for his first goal. Just over a minute later, Tavares netted his second goal, after putting back a Moulson wrap-around try on the power play.
New York wasn’t done just yet, as the hosts headed into the break with a three-goal cushion. With less than a minute left, Moulson was finally rewarded, after one-timing a pass from Boyes. “It started from doing all of the right things defensively,” described Tavares.” I was just lucky enough to be at the end of those plays.”
In the third stanza, New Jersey sliced the deficit to a two-goal margin (3-1) nearly halfway through. From the bottom of the circle, Marek Zidlicky slapped a cross-ice pass from Patrik Elias just inside the right post for the Devils’ first tally of the game. Shortly thereafter, the Devs’ earned a power play, and had a chance to close the gap to just one goal. The Islanders managed to kill it off though, allowing just two shots to David Clarkson.
Following the expiration of a Michael Grabner high-sticking penalty, New Jersey had two players put in the sin bin, giving the Isles’ a two-man advantage. New York then put the game away for good, as Tavares, from the right circle, skated in, and rifled a shot into the top shelf for a comfortable 4-1 lead. The Isles added one more marker in the final seconds, as Ullstrom flicked the puck into the empty net, which capped off the scoring.
“We did a good job of sticking with it,” Tavares said. “Hedberg made some good saves in the first half, but we made their defensemen have to turn around and wore them out…This was a great win for us.”
For the contest, the Islanders held a 33-31 edge in shots, a 29-21 clip in hits, a 17-4 margin in takeaways. The hosts also owned a 34-20 advantage at the faceoff dot. In goal, Nabokov made a game-high 30 saves, while Hedberg stopped 28 shots. In regards to his effort, Nabokov said: “The win feels good. We needed those two points tonight…My job is to make those saves, and give the guys a chance.”
“Your best players have to be the best players,” stated Head Coach Jack Capuano. “Any great players put the responsibility on themselves to lead. The rest of the guys feed off of that.”
Capuano and the Islanders are back in action on Monday (Feb. 18), in a President’s Day matinee against the Philadelphia Flyers. The puck drops at Nassau Coliseum at 1 p.m.