Tavares extended his point streak to 12 games, the longest in the NHL this season, by scoring both of New York's goals -- including the winner with 1:02 left in overtime as the Islanders won their third in a row by beating the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Tavares tied the game 7:46 into the second period when he fired home a rebound after Cam Ward stopped Mark Streit's straightaway 50-footer. With time running out in overtime, he batted his own rebound out of the air and over the goal line for the winner.
"He made a good save on my first shot,” Tavares said. “Lucky enough the rebound didn’t go too far, I just stuck with it, and I’ll take it. It just squeaked over the line.”
The two goals gave Tavares 21 points (8 goals and 13 assists) during his scoring streak. It's the longest in the NHL this season and the longest by an Islander since Mark Parrish had points in 12 straight games early in the 2001-02 season. He leads the Islanders this season with 48 points, including 19 goals.
Ward made 38 saves, including 22 in the second period, as Carolina earned at least one point against the Islanders for the 14th consecutive game (10-0-4). The 'Canes, who blanked Washington 3-0 at home on Friday night, got three points from their back-to-back set.
Evgeni Nabokov stopped 32 shots for the Islanders (19-21-6) to win for the fourth time in eight days. Fourteen of his saves came in the first period, when the Hurricanes controlled play and kept the Islanders on their heels.
However, Carolina managed only one goal in the opening 20 minutes. Jeff Skinner knocked in a rebound at 8:43.
“Getting through the first period, we could have been down by two or three goals,” Isles coach Jack Capuano said. “We were real lucky to come out down by a goal. We regrouped in the first intermission, came out and had a pretty good second and third.”
The Islanders, outshot 14-9 in the opening 20 minutes by a team that had played the night before, came out with much more energy in the second period. They tied it when Streit teed up a shot that was stopped by Ward and Kyle Okposo slid the puck out of a pile of skates to Tavares, who fired it high over a diving Ward.
The Isles won for only the fourth time in 24 games when allowing the first goal (4-18-2).
"It was a good response," Tavares said of his team's 23-shot second period. "We stuck with it. Not every game can have a great start, or you're not going to have the momentum all game long. They played hard tonight, especially after having to travel."
Ward agreed that the 'Canes had nothing to be disappointed with -- except the final score.
"Our guys did battle hard. This game could have gone either way," Ward said. "The Islanders are a quick team with lots of offense and pucks to the net. We had our hands full, and Tavares certainly showed some great hand-eye coordination on that winning goal."
Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller, who took over for the fired Paul Maurice on Nov. 28, also discerned positives from his team's effort.
"We got two points (Friday) night and one tonight," Muller said. "Give the Islanders credit. They are a good skating team playing with momentum. We knew that going in. Ward certainly kept us in the game with big saves."
Despite a dreadful start, the Isles' spurt of five wins in seven games has them just eight points behind eighth-place Washington entering a home-and-home against the Maple Leafs, beginning Monday in Toronto.
“Every game we play now is absolutely huge for us, especially against these teams,” Tavares said. “[These are] conference teams that we are battling in position with. We are still fighting hard and we still believe in here. We are really coming together.”
1 - 0 CAR
1 - 1 Tie