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Tavares leads Islanders over Carolina | January
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Uniondale, NY --
An overtime goal by John Tavares gave the Islanders a 2-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes Saturday night at Nassau Coliseum. Tavares had already scored a goal in the second period to tie the game at one and extend his point streak to a league leading 12 games.

“Johnny is a power force out there,” said Evgeni Nabokov, who made 32 saves in the Islander win. “But I think all five of them are playing as a unit in the offensive zone. That’s what makes them successful. And obviously Johnny’s skill and his talent it shows up.”

The game-winning goal came with nearly two minutes left to play in the overtime period. PA Parenteau sent a no look pass to Tavares, who had made his way through the defense to get to the net. His initial shot was stopped, but he batted the rebound of the air and it found its’ way into the back of the net.

“I knew I had a great chance there once I got ahead of stall,” Tavares said when describing the game winner. “PA made a great play there and [Cam Ward] made a good save, good read on my first shot and lucky enough the rebound didn’t go to far.  I just stuck with it and it just squeaked over the line.”

Though the game ended well, it did not start off as great. The Huricanes started the game as the stronger team, hemming the Islanders in their own zone and forcing Nabokov to make several crucial saves, eventually scoring at the 8:43 mark. Jeff Skinner was able to capitalize on a juicy rebound in front of the net and he was able to sneak one by the Islanders goaltender.

A sloppy first was followed by a bounce back second period. The Islanders came out strong, outshooting Carolina 23-8 and forcing them back on their heals. Tavares scored the tying goal with 12:14 left in the period.

The third was a period of opportunities for both teams, but neither could capitalize and Tavares won the game in OT.

“It was a huge bounce back for us,” Tavares said. “We were a little sloppy, especially in our own end, but not every game is gunna be a great start. Moment shifts, momentum changes sometimes when a team plays a back to back.  They seem to get into the game right away like they were still playing. So we start to match their intensity and we started jump on them and wear them down…and just happened we came out on top.”

After the game Jack Capuano voiced his displeasures about the first period. He told reporters after the game the Islanders could have been down two or three goals by the end of the first.

“We didn’t elevate our battle level,” Capuano told reporters.  “We defended on the wrong side of the puck, we didn’t get in blocking lanes and we took penalties, so we were real lucky to come out down by a goal.”

The Islander head coach added later, “We have to learn from this. We had some individuals that, like I told them after the game, if they didn’t have their legs, if they were fatigued a little bit for whatever reason, but you need to have the intensity and desire. You have to have that battle level up to win those 50-50 puck battles to be successful. I didn’t think we did that in the first and Nabby kept us in it. We’re lucky to come back and get right back in the game.”

The win comes at a huge time as the Islanders continue to fight for playoff contention. The loss would have dropped the Islanders back to last place in the Eastern Conference; instead the win puts them in a tie for 12th in the east with Tampa Bay.

“Every game now is absolutely huge for us,” Tavares said. Especially against these teams, conference teams, teams we’re battling position with. We’re still fighting, we still believe in here and we’re really coming together.”

Though The Islander All-star still believes there is some work to be done.

“I think definitely we’re starting to hit our stride a little more. I still think we got more,” He added. “I still think we can be better as a team. We got a great group, a hard working group, so just keep winning games, keep doing the right things and being rewarded for it I think will build our confidence.”

Howie Rose’s epic rant

In case you missed it. Enjoy!