UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Captain John Tavares scored a hat trick en route to a five-point night, as the Islanders beat the Dallas Stars 7-3 Monday night at Nassau Coliseum.
Tavares’ monster night drove the Islanders offense, as the home team erased an 0-2 deficit with four second period goals. Ryan Strome sparked the second-period onslaught with his first career NHL goal, as the Islanders won their fourth game in their last five tries.
“A lot of guys did great things,” Tavares said. “I was just happy I was able to capitalize.”
His teammates wouldn’t let the captain be so modest.
“He’s unbelievable,” Strome said. “He puts the team on his back. In the third period you saw how good he wanted to be. He wanted that hat trick. If I can learn one thing of the 100 things he does, it’ll make me successful.”
Trailing 2-0 at the start of the second period, the Islanders conjured up their third comeback in five games. Strome got the Islanders rolling, jumping all over a Thomas Vanek pass on the power play and firing past Kari Lehtonen.
“I was just sitting on the back door hoping for a loose puck and my eyes almost popped out of my head when I saw it pop out there,” Strome said. “[Tavares and Vanek] are great players and it’s no surprise that the puck found me with those two players on the ice.”
Vanek finished the game with two assists, extending his point streak to a career-high nine games (5-9-14). Vanek’s second assist was one of the prettiest plays of the night, as he fed Tavares with a beautiful no-look, between-the-legs pass for an easy tap in.
“We’re getting some good chemistry,” Vanek said. “I think you can see it every night but you know overall, besides his play it was nice to see everyone scoring and we’re going to need that here.”
Two minutes after Tavares’ first goal, Peter Regin scored his second of the season, burying a Josh-Bailey feed from the top of the crease. Dallas’ Valeri Nuchushkin tied the score on the power play six minutes later, but Brock Nelson put the Islanders ahead with a strong wrister in the slot with 28 seconds to play in the middle frame. With the secondary assist on Nelson’s goal, Calvin de Haan picked up his first career NHL point.
From there it was all Islanders, as Brian Strait scored his fourth goal of the season 1:24 into the third period. Approximately five minutes later, Tavares walked out of the corner and beat Lehtonen with a nifty deke and a quick backhand, setting the stage for the hat trick.
With 3:07 to play and two Stars in the penalty box, Tavares did not disappoint, blasting home his third goal from the slot. The hats reigned down and the Islanders skated off to a standing ovation from the Coliseum crowd.
The win did come at a cost to the Islanders, as goaltender Evgeni Nabokov left the game in the first period with a lower-body injury and did not return. Kevin Poulin stopped 13-of-15 shots in relief of Nabokov, while Lehtonen finished the contest with 36 saves.
After taking four-of-six points at home, the Islanders embark on a six-game road trip, starting Tuesday night in Toronto. Puck drop from the Air Canada Centre goes at 7 p.m.
NOTES: Vanek, de Haan, Andrew MacDonald and Casey Cizikas each finished the game with two assists… MacDonald is riding a five-game point streak (eight assists)… In total 12 different Islanders hit the scoresheet and every Islander had a shot except de Haan… The Islanders won 63% of faceoffs… Travis Hamonic led the team with 23:47 TOI… Josh Bailey returned after missing four games with an upper-body injury.
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