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Like his team, Tavares hitting his stride

by Brian Compton /
UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- John Tavares could certainly get used to this.

After watching his new team drop its first six games of the season, Tavares and the New York Islanders won their fourth straight in a 3-1 victory against the Edmonton Oilers at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Monday night.

Tavares, the No. 1 selection in the 2009 Entry Draft, scored his fifth goal of the season in the win. Not only have his Isles won four in a row, but they've also recorded points in six straight games (4-0-2) to improve to 5-4-5 on the season.

"I think we're just feeling comfortable," Tavares told "When we have that lead in the third period, we're starting to figure out what our style is and what we have to do to win these hockey games. When we come to the locker room, we don't really have to say too much. We just go out and we know what we have to do. We've just got to keep it up for the rest of the season, really."

Without question, the Isles' dressing room has a different feel these days. After blowing three multi-goal leads in the third period during the month of October, the Islanders -- led by goaltenders Dwayne Roloson, who made 22 saves on Monday against his former team, and Martin Biron -- have tightened things up in their own end and are suddenly right in the thick of the playoff race in the Eastern Conference.

"We only look forward," said Tavares, who scored a record 215 goals during his junior career. "You really can't do too much (about) those. We just want to play our game. Once we get in the third period, we still want to create some offense and just keep putting them on their heels. When they do get it and try to create some offense, we just want to shut down those opportunities and shut down any team's speed or skill. Our goaltending's been spectacular. They've been a great part. Anytime you've got that, it makes things easier as well."

Skating on a line with childhood friend Matt Moulson has certainly made things easier for Tavares. On Monday night, Moulson sent a crisp feed from behind the net out to the slot to Tavares, where No. 91 one-timed a laser from between the circles past Nikolai Khabibulin to erase a 1-0 deficit with 5:09 to play in the first period.

"I had a few more (opportunities from that area), and hopefully most of them start going in," said Tavares, who now has 11 points in 14 games.

And as long as Tavares continues to find the back of the net and he and his teammates continue to shut things down in the defensive end, there's no reason to believe the Islanders can't continue to be in the mix.

"It's building," coach Scott Gordon said. "We've just got to make sure that we understand what gives us success and continue to build on it."

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