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Key players come up big in win over Rangers

by Brian Croce / New York Islanders
John Tavares’ third career hat trick jolted the Islanders past the New York Rangers for a 4-2 victory at Nassau Coliseum on Saturday in front of a sell out crowd of 16,234.

Tavares and the Islanders had to play a full 60 minutes for this victory, which proved to be no simple task. For the second consecutive game the Islanders top line got them out to an early lead.

Tavares’ first point came when he carried the puck into the Rangers zone, dished the puck to PA Parenteau who then chipped the puck to the nearby Matt Moulson. Moulson quickly sniped a shot passed Henrik Lundqvist’s blocker side at 12:04 of the first period.

Matt Moulson is stopped by goaltender Henrik Lundqvist and forward Brian Boyle of the Rangers at Nassau Coliseum on October 15, 2011. The Islanders defeated the Rangers 4-2. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Minutes later, the Islanders nearly cashed in again when Frans Nielsen got off a wrist shot during a two-on-one opportunity, but Lundqvist made one of his 30 saves on the night.

In the early stages of the second period Brad Richards found Marian Gaborik streaking behind the Islanders defense for a breakaway goal between Evgeni Nabokov’s pads.

After wearing down the Rangers during a 5-on-3, Tavares struck with the one-man advantage. Mark Streit took a shot from the blue line that was initially saved by Lundqvist. Tavares back-handed the rebound over a sprawling Lundqvist to put the Islanders back on top 2-1.

Moulson likes the start his line-mate has gotten off to this season, as Tavares is currently tied for the league lead in goals (5) and points (8).

“He’s just committed to being one of the best players in this league,” Moulson said. “He’s playing with a lot of confidence and when he does that he’s a scary player to play against.”

Brandon Prust’s wrap-around goal with 1:34 remaining in the second period sent both teams into the second intermission tied at two.

Early in the third period, the Islanders made the best of their seventh power play. Six seconds into the power play Mark Streit wound up for a slap pass that Tavares deflected in for his second goal of the game.

The goal put the Islanders ahead 3-2, they wouldn’t look back.

Nabokov, making his first start of the season, was a big reason why, as he made 29 saves on the night.

Evgeni Nabokov makes the first period save as Ryan Callahan of the Rangers attempts to control the puck at the Nassau Coliseum on October 15, 2011. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Tavares capped off the night with an empty-net goal late in the third period. The loss drops the Rangers to 0-1-2 on the year, while the Islanders improve to 3-1-0. For the Islanders, this win is all about momentum heading into the team’s first road trip next week in Florida.

“We’ll keep going, keep doing the little things right and I think everyone’s happy with the start we’re having,” Parenteau said. “But we’re never going to be satisfied in this locker room.”

Notes: Saturday was the third career hat trick for Tavares who last achieved the feat in January of 2011 against the Buffalo Sabres.

The game’s Three Stars:
3. Matt Moulson (1g/1a)
2. Evgeni Nabokov (29 saves)
1. John Tavares (3g/1a)

Isles PK...
The Islanders penalty kill went 4-for-4 on Saturday and is currently tied for third in the league with a PK percentage of 94.7%.

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