John Tavares returned to his hometown on Monday night and created a lifelong memory for himself.
After Phil Kessel erased a 1-0 lead via the man advantage with just 2:05 remaining in regulation, Tavares replied with a power-play goal of his own at 3:26 of overtime as the New York Islanders halted the Toronto Maple Leafs' win streak at four in a 2-1 decision at the Air Canada Centre.
The victory allowed the Isles (3-1-2) to remain in a first-place tie in the Atlantic Division with the Pittsburgh Penguins, who defeated Ottawa by a 5-2 score on Monday. New York has earned points in five of its first six games despite the losses of Mark Streit and Kyle Okposo to shoulder injuries.
Tavares, who grew up in the Toronto area and had family and friends in the audience, won it for the Isles when he one-timed James Wisniewski's feed from the right circle past Jean-Sebastien Giguere. The Leafs entered Monday's action with a perfect 4-0-0 record.
"It's great to be able to come in and get a road win -- especially against a team that's been playing pretty well," Isles coach Scott Gordon said. "We've had our struggles on the road. The special teams came up big when it had to."
New York was awarded a power play at 3:07 of the extra session when Leafs defenseman Brett Lebda interfered with goalie Dwayne Roloson, who put on another show in Toronto in a 29-save effort.
"A great ending," said Tavares, who has four goals in five games against the Maple Leafs. "That's something I worked on this summer -- working on my shot. I thought it might have hit something. I didn't really see it go in, I just saw the guys kind of celebrating. It's a great feeling."
Roloson's performance was somewhat reminiscent of the 58-save show he put on at the Air Canada Centre 11 months ago in a game the Islanders won in overtime.
"I don't think it's the building or anything else," Roloson said. "I don't really focus on who we're playing, it's just going out and playing. To get a win here and get some confidence on the road and play gritty hockey … hopefully we can carry that over into our trip."
"He had some great games here last year," Gordon said of Roloson. "Obviously, we wanted to take advantage of that."
After a scoreless first period, Matt Moulson gave the Islanders a 1-0 lead at 2:17 of the second. Just five seconds after a power play expired, Moulson took a nifty feed from Tavares and backhanded a shot past Giguere for his third goal of the season.
Kris Versteeg almost broke through later in the period, but had his goal waived off because he was ruled to have knocked the puck down with a high stick prior to scoring.
Toronto thought it had tied the game again midway through the third period, when Colby Armstrong flipped a shot from behind the net off Roloson's back. But replays showed that the puck never crossed the goal line.
"I thought we played a very good game throughout the night," Leafs coach Ron Wilson said. "In some instances, we didn't have any puck luck. A couple of calls went completely against us. Our guys never gave up. I can't complain about our performance at all."
Kessel, though, finally got the Leafs on the board at 17:55 when he beat Roloson with a wrister from the left circle. Kessel has five goals in as many games to start the season.
"It was great to battle back and get the point, at least," Armstrong said. "They do a great job. They're a hard-skating team. We stuck with it 'til the end and got a point."
The Islanders, who were also without Trent Hunter (foot), lost Josh Bailey after the second period due to a hip-flexor injury. It is unknown if he'll be able to play when the team returns to the ice on Thursday at Tampa Bay.
1 - 0 NYI
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 NYI
Power Play Stats
Power Play %
% on Road
% at Home
Interference on goalkeeper
Interference on goalkeeper