The feeling was this was something bigger than it was — the fans, the team, the player.

Above all, the player.

John Tavares put on a show Monday night at the Coliseum, notching his fifth career hat trick in the Islanders’ 7-3 thwarting of the Stars. It was a game in which Tavares did his best Mike Bossy imitation, and if you closed your eyes and squinted hard enough, you just might be fooled into seeing this old barn in sepia tone, seeing it like it was the early 1980s with the Stanley Cup a realistic expectation.

“A lot of people dream of those nights,” said coach Jack Capuano, speaking with reverence for Tavares’ first five-point night (two assists) since March 16, 2010. “Yeah, he was good.”

There is no question how good Tavares was, or how good he is, but please, keep the championship aspirations locked away in the memory box. When the team landed in Toronto later in the evening, the captain would be in his hometown, readying for Tuesday morning’s announcement that would send him to Sochi, Russia in February as part of his first Canadian Olympic team.

“It’s just an exciting time, really,” said Tavares, the reigning Hart Trophy finalist who leads his team with 20 goals and 51 points through the first 44 games of the season. “For me, I’m looking forward to [Tuesday] morning and what that could possibly bring, and then it’s just right back to trying to have that focus.”

Unfortunately for Tavares and his mates, that won’t be with starting goaltender Evgeni Nabokov, who pulled himself from this game with 7:06 remaining in the first period, replaced by Kevin Poulin. After making a sprawling stop on Jamie Benn, the 38-year-old Nabokov was wracked with pain, the groin injury that recently sidelined him for 11 games seemingly back with a vengeance.

There was no official word about Nabokov’s status, but the team immediately placed him on injured reserve and called up Anders Nilsson from AHL Bridgeport.

The Islanders also played without first-line winger and second-leading scorer Kyle Okposo, who was with his wife, Danielle, as she gave birth to the couple’s first child, Ellianna.