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Tavares' hat trick leads Isles past Devils
Uniondale, NY (Sports Network) - John Tavares recorded a hat trick and also added an assist on Saturday to lead the New York Islanders to a 5-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils at Nassau Coliseum.
Tavares, the first overall pick in the 2009 draft, has now scored in five straight games to move into a tie with Buffalo's Thomas Vanek and Pittsburgh's James Neal for the league lead in goals with 11.
Matt Moulson tallied once and added three assists, Michael Grabner scored once, and Evgeni Nabokov notched 30 saves in New York's second straight triumph.
"We beat two rivals in a tough division," Tavares said of his team's back-to- back victories. "We needed to step it up and stop making excuses for ourselves."
Marek Zidlicky registered the lone New Jersey goal, while Johan Hedberg allowed all five goals on 33 shots for the Devils, who have dropped two of their last three.
"Their best players were their best players tonight," New Jersey coach Peter DeBoer said of the Islanders. "Tavares and their goaltender...that was the difference."
After New York forward David Ullstrom hit the crossbar on a penalty shot late in the first period, the Islanders finally broke through with a three-goal flurry in a 2:20 span late in the second stanza.
Tavares notched the first two tallies, with his first coming at the 16:46 when he pounded home a long rebound off a Brad Boyes wrister to make it 1-0.
With New York on the power play just 1:23 later, Tavares fed a pass from the right circle to Moulson at the right of the net. After Moulson's shot from in close was stuffed by Hedberg, Tavares batted the rebound out of mid-air in front to double New York's edge.
Moulson then capped the flurry with 54 seconds left in the frame when he made his way to the slot and took a nice feed from Boyes below the goal line. Moulson stopped the puck with his skate before burying a wrister past Hedberg for another power-play marker to make it 3-0.
New Jersey cut into the lead while on the power play at the 8:47 mark of the third when Zidlicky rifled a slapper from the right circle past the glove-side of Nabokov, but Tavares put any thoughts of a comeback to rest with the Islanders on a 5-on-3 with just over five minutes left.
With plenty of room to skate, Tavares stepped into the right circle and ripped a wrister from the faceoff dot that sailed high over Hedberg to make it 4-1 at the 14:45 mark.
Grabner's tally with 35 seconds left accounted for the final margin.
It was the fourth career hat trick for Tavares ... New Jersey forward Ilya Kovalchuk recorded an assist to notch his 800th career point ... It was the second four-point game of Moulson's career ... Boyes finished with two assists ... The Islanders and Devils have split four games this season, with one more matchup scheduled for April 1 in New Jersey ... New York went 3-for-5 on the power play, while New Jersey went 1-for-5.
02/16 22:53:16 ET