When John Tavares and the Islanders talked playoffs during the extremely brief preseason, several unbelieving eyebrows were raised.
Seven games into the lockout-shortened season, they are backing up their talk.
Tavares scored twice and assisted on Brad Boyes' game-winner on the power play as the Islanders capped an impressive 3-1-1 five-game road trip with a seesaw of a 5-4 overtime victory over the Devils in front of a sellout crowd of 17,625 at the Prudential Center last night.
"We found a way to win on the road," Tavares said. "That's what good teams do and teams [that] are successful can do."
The Islanders (4-2-1) now sit tied atop the Atlantic Division with the Devils (3-0-3), having played just twice at Nassau Coliseum, and without the services of defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky, who likely would be their top blue-liner, and forward Josh Bailey.
"I think teams might be taking us for granted, might not take us seriously," said Boyes, who scored his first two goals of the young season. "We're taking advantage of that, we're playing well and we're learning as we go."
The Islanders' special teams continued to be just that — special. They have now cashed in on six of their last seven power-play opportunities after going 3-for-4, and killed off all four Devils man-advantages.
The Islanders started slowly — as they did in the season-opening 2-1 loss to New Jersey — managing just one shot over the first 13:51. But the Islanders found their footing on Andy Greene's interference penalty, when Tavares swept home a Boyes feed at the doorstep to Martin Brodeur's right. Keith Aucoin knocked home the second of three power-play tallies.
The Devils got even at two, scoring twice in 3:08, both on rebounds just outside the crease from Ryan Carter and Steve Bernier. The two teams exchanged a pair of goals, each time the Islanders going ahead and the Devils quickly responding, heading late into the final period.
The Devils seemed to be in the driver's seat when the Islanders were whistled for a too many men on the ice penalty with 1:29 left in regulation. But Islanders goaltender Evgeni Nabokov (28 saves) came up big, making several game-saving stops to kill the man advantage, and the Islanders converted when Henrik Tallinder was sent to the penalty box for cross checking and Boyes muscled in his shot through traffic with Brodeur out of the crease.
Isles cap strong trip with win over Devils
New York Post | Feb 1