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game recap

John Tavares hat trick lifts Islanders

New York captain reaches 500 NHL points in win against Panthers

by Alain Poupart / Correspondent

SUNRISE, Fla. -- John Tavares had a hat trick, including his 500th NHL point, when the New York Islanders defeated the Florida Panthers 5-2 at BB&T Center on Friday.

"It's hard to believe that's where I'm at," said Tavares, who has 221 goals and 280 assists (501 points) in 550 NHL games.

"I didn't really know about it until a couple of days ago. Honestly, it's more nice to kind of get it over with. I'll enjoy it at a later date, but credit goes to a lot of the guys I've played with, teammates and coaches and people who have made a big impact since I've come into the League. It makes you appreciate those things, and I just want to keep that going, strive for another 500."


WATCH: All Islanders vs. Panthers highlights


Nick Leddy had a goal and two assists, Jason Chimera scored, and Josh Bailey had two assists for the Islanders (16-16-8), who ended a run of three consecutive 2-1 losses, including one against the Panthers on Wednesday.

"We battled hard," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "We've had compete level all year long and tonight was just another example of how it's a brotherhood in the room and how we battled. To get the five (goals) obviously is big for us. Both teams played extremely hard, but it was nice to see us get the goals here tonight that we haven't gotten the last three games."
Vincent Trocheck had a goal and an assist for the Panthers (19-17-8), who failed in their fifth attempt at their first three-game winning streak of the season. Reilly Smith scored a power-play goal, Keith Yandle had two assists, and Roberto Luongo made 37 saves.
Florida has lost seven of its past eight at home (1-4-3).

Video: NYI@FLA: Tavares reaches 500 points after nifty move

"It was a rough game all around," Luongo said. "We came out flat. We weren't ready to play as a team, myself included, They were hungry, they got called out by their coach, they wanted it more. … It's frustrating; you think we're making good strides on the road and you come home and play like that. It starts with me. I've got to be ready early and make some big saves and keep the guys in the game."
Chimera made it 1-0 at 2:22 of the first period, and Tavares' first goal gave the Islanders a 2-0 lead at 3:48. Leddy carried the puck into the Florida zone and fed Tavares, who beat Luongo with a wrist shot high to the glove side.
After Smith scored at 1:42 of the third period to make it 3-2, Tavares made it 4-2 with his 500th point at 7:50. He came in on a 2-on-1, held the puck as he skated across the middle and waited to shoot until Luongo went down.

Tavares completed the hat trick, his first of the season and his sixth in the NHL, with an empty-net goal with 1:44 left.

"He's incredible," Leddy said. "I think everybody in the League knows how special a player he is. He showed it once again tonight."

Video: NYI@FLA: Tavares scores empty-netter for hat trick


Goal of the game

After Florida killed a two-minute 5-on-3 power play, Leddy made it 3-1 at 16:06 of the second period with a slap shot from the top of the left circle that beat Luongo high to the blocker side and went under the crossbar.

Video: NYI@FLA: Leddy goes top shelf on Luongo with slapper


Save of the game

The highlight of Florida's 5-on-3 kill was a glove save by Luongo on a slap shot by Johnny Boychuk from the right circle.

Video: NYI@FLA: Luongo makes a stellar glove save in the 2nd


Highlight of the game

Panthers forward Jaromir Jagr showed a burst when he skated around Cal Clutterbuck to come in alone on goalie Thomas Greiss. Clutterbuck was able to use his stick to force Jagr into shooting wide.

Unsung performance of the game

Tavares won 21 of 28 faceoffs, helping the Islanders to a 42-22 advantage.

Video: NYI@FLA: Tavares snipes a wrister to pad the lead


They said it

"I think we played one of our better games lately. We put a lot of shots on net and scored a bunch. It also helps to get a bunch of power plays. It was a while since we played a really solid game." -- Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss


Video: NYI@FLA: Greiss denies a barrage of shots


"It's tough to start a game when the other team gets off to a hot start and finds the back of the net. It's no excuse. They were the better team. They beat us up and down the ice. Even without those first two goals, they were just the better team." -- Panthers forward Reilly Smith


Video: NYI@FLA: Smith hammers home strong power-play goal


Need to know

The Islanders were 0-for-6 on the power play, including 3:25 of 5-on-3 time. … Tavares' most recent hat trick was Jan. 6, 2014 against the Dallas Stars. ... Islanders rookie Anthony Beauvillier had an assist after being scratched the previous four games. … Trocheck has 11 points (five goals, six assists) in the past nine games. … Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield, recalled from Bridgeport of the American Hockey League on Thursday, was a healthy scratch.

What's next

Islanders: At the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; FS-CR, MSG+, NHL.TV)

Panthers: Host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; FS-O, FS-F, NHL.TV)


Video: Tavares tallies hat trick, 500th career point in win

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