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Tavares, Halak help Islanders hold off Flames

by Aaron Vickers /

CALGARY -- At home or on the road, the New York Islanders have plenty of reasons to be confident.

John Tavares scored twice, and the Islanders defeated the Calgary Flames 2-1 at Scotiabank Saddledome on Friday, their second straight win to start a season-high seven-game road trip.

"[We're] just confident in our game," Tavares said. "We've been good on the road and we've been good at home. I think any situation, we just feel comfortable with the way we can play in our group and our belief we can win any kind of hockey game."

The Islanders (26-11-1) and the Montreal Canadiens lead the Eastern Conference with 12 road wins.

Jaroslav Halak, who made 22 saves, has been in net for 21 of New York's NHL best 26 wins. The goaltender, signed prior to free agency after the Islanders acquired his rights from the Washington Capitals on May 1, is 21-6-0, and 18-2-0 in his past 20 decisions.

"You just see the composure and poise he has in the net," Tavares said. "I know shooting on him for years, the way he challenges shooters and comes out and makes himself look big, and not only that, he absorbs a lot of rebounds or kicks them out to the corners. He doesn't give up those second and third opportunities."

Johnny Gaudreau, the NHL's reigning rookie of the month, scored for the Flames (21-16-3), whose four-game winning streak ended.

"It's disappointing," Calgary forward Josh Jooris said. "It's our game, what we pride ourselves on. We just got outworked tonight. They're a really good team. They're really deep. They've got all four lines that can play in the [offensive zone] as well as the [defensive zone]. They shut us down tonight in their D-zone, blocked a lot of shots and paid the price."

With Lance Bouma called for tripping and Matt Stajan for a faceoff violation, New York worked the puck around the perimeter on a 5-on-3 before Ryan Strome fed a cross-crease pass to Tavares, who one-timed it by Calgary goaltender Jonas Hiller 8:00 into the first period.

"Just nice work by everybody, realizing some fake shots up top getting their guys to creep up a bit, commit to some blocked shots and eventually just opened up the game down low," Tavares said. "[Strome] has great vision, great hockey IQ, and had a great look. It was an easy one."

Strome extended his point streak to three games (seven points). The goal came before the Flames had a shot on goal.

Tavares had an opportunity early in the third period, but his breakaway attempt was denied by Hiller's pad at 3:18. With 7:44 remaining, Tavares dribbled a shot from the slot between Hiller's legs to put the Islanders up 2-0.

"The breakaway I just fanned on it. I wanted to go upstairs and I didn't get it the way I wanted to," Tavares said. "It was a great opportunity there, so it was nice to get the chance to redeem myself."

The goal came after the Flames had two power plays in the period.

"We need a lot more," Calgary forward Sean Monahan said. "We're not happy about that. Power plays are a big part of the game, and that's how you've got to win hockey games. When you have that man-advantage, you have to find a way to bury one."

With 3:25 left, a loose puck squired to Gaudreau in the slot, where he beat Halak over the glove to make it 2-1. But the Flames, who lead the NHL with eight wins trailing after two periods, couldn't put another behind Halak.

"Guys played great," Halak said. "Everybody was backchecking, tracking back hard, we didn't give up too much. It could have been perfect or better if they didn't score, but a win is a win."

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