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Tavares goes scoreless in debut as Isles lose

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John Tavares, the first pick in the 2009 Entry Draft, played in his first NHL game Wednesday night but was held without a point in the New York Islanders' 3-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place.

He was credited with only one shot on goal, a third-period backhander that was stopped by Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers, and was on the ice for two of the Oilers' three third-period goals, including the game-winner by Sheldon Souray with 2:15 remaining in regulation.

Tavares, a scoring sensation in juniors, missed the Isles' first preseason game Monday night due to the flu. He started this game centering a line with Sean Bergenheim and Doug Weight and won the opening faceoff from Edmonton's Sam Gagner.

Tavares was on the ice for the game's first goal, a slap shot from the right point by Isles' defenseman Bruno Gervais that sailed past Devan Dubnyk 6:39 into the game, giving the Islanders a 1-0 lead. However, he was on the ice for two of Edmonton's three goals in the third period, including Sheldon Souray's game-winner with 2:15 remaining in regulation.

He won all three of his faceoffs in the opening period, but got only 4:02 of ice time as the Islanders gave Edmonton four power plays. But Tavares got plenty of ice after that; the official scoresheet listed him with a team-high 22:50. His best performance came in the faceoff circle, where he won 10 of 16 draws.

"There were some positives and some things to work on," Tavares said."I'm glad to get the first one under my best and out of the way, and I'm looking forward to the next one."

Whenever that it, he may have new linemates. Both Weight and Bergenheim left the game with groin strains and the Islanders say they're day-to-day.

Tavares finished his junior career with 215 goals, the most ever in the Ontario Hockey League. The Mississauga, Ont., native also won a pair of gold medals for Canada at the World Junior Championship. Tavares was named the Best Forward and MVP of the 2009 event in Ottawa.
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