Tavares did not have a great game, he had trouble controlling the puck and keeping his footing on the Madison Square Garden ice, but he still was able to find his way onto the score sheet. Tavares had three assists on Tuesday, including a nice play on the deciding goal scored by Thomas Vanek.
The Islanders were their own worst enemy early. They lost track of Rick Nash twice in the first period, and the red-hot goal-scorer capitalized both times, and the Islanders were down early once again.
Late in the third, after being down 3-1 at one point, Frans Nielsen threw the puck toward the net, and Tavares made a nice play deflecting the puck to the side of the net where it found Vanek and he tapped it in for the deciding goal. It was the hard work of Tavares on this shift that made it happen. It’s that hard work that has been all over this team during this hot streak.
The subplot of this game was goalie Kevin Poulin. He has been a big part of the Islanders’ recent success, and that was true again tonight as he made some big time saves. The Islanders wouldn’t be where they are if it weren’t for Poulin; he has stepped up in Evgeni Nabokov‘s absence and played extremely well.
With his three assists tonight, Tavares ranks second in the league in points with 62, six behind Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Speaking of Crosby and the Penguins, they are the Islanders’ next opponent — that game coming this Thursday. It will be a big test for Tavares, as the world will get the opportunity to see him play against another one of the league’s best.