answered with a statement game on Thursday night.
After a week of having to field questions on why he hadn't put up any points in the Islanders' first two games,
Tavares tallied four points in the Islanders 5-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“He was John Tavares
of last year and how he finished,” Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano said. “The thing about Johnny is that he puts a lot of pressure on himself. Tonight he played relaxed and he went out and did the little things. I thought he had an excellent game. I thought he was the best player on the ice.”
|John Tavares celebrates his second goal in the first period during the game against the Tampa Bay Lightning on October 13, 2011 at Nassau Coliseum. (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images) |
It all began 36 seconds after the opening faceoff as Tavares converted for his first goal of the season and put the Islanders ahead 1-0. Sparking the chemistry and momentum they were hoping for, Tavares and his linemates would have the breakout night they were looking for – each of them would finish the night with a +4 rating.
“I know I wanted more shots on net, so I had a great chance there early on and a lucky bounce, but I think Matt (Moulson) was going to be there anyways to put in a rebound,” Tavares said. “We just did the right things and we fed off each other. We played a simple game. We got pucks to the net, went to the front of the net and got rewarded for it.”
The Islanders win over the Lightning put Moulson and Tavares on the scoresheet for the first time this season. Capuano said he didn’t want to put pressure on them because he knew the points would come, adding “It’s got to come natural for them.”Matt Moulson
knocked in a Tavares rebound (9:28), Tavares scored his second goal of the night (15:15), and then the Isles center sent PA Parenteau
in for his first goal of the season (18:39). Including goals and assists, the Moulson-Tavares-Parenteau line put up eight points in the first period.
“I felt like our timing was a lot better today,” Moulson said of his line’s chemistry. “We worked hard in that first period to get ourselves going and sometimes all you need is a lucky goal like that first one Johnny got. Right after he scored, I said, ‘that’s definitely going to spark us’ and it did.”
Although their line wouldn’t convert on any of their opportunities in the final 40 minutes, that energy carried through the second and the third. Tavares played well at all ends of the ice, posting four shots, two takeaways, and two penalties (one of which was a minor for roughing).
Early in the second period, Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman sent Tavares sliding into the boards. After the hit, the Isles center skated slowly to the bench. However, he wouldn’t miss a shift. At 7:38 of the third period, he’d get even. Tavares and Hedman would each take minor penalties for roughing.
More nights like Thursday are exactly what Tavares will need to top his totals from seasons past.
“The sky is the limit for this guy,” Parenteau said of Tavares. “He’s a great player. He’s got tremendous hands, a great shot. He’s fun to play with.”