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Tavares heats up for the Islanders

by John Kreiser

John Tavares is doing everything he possibly can to get the New York Islanders into the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2007.

John Tavares
John Tavares
Center - NYI
GOALS: 11 | ASST: 9 | PTS: 20
SOG: 57 | +/-: -3
The first player taken in the 2009 NHL Draft is the biggest reason the Islanders’ five-game losing streak is now a two-game winning streak. He had a regulation goal and the shootout clincher in a 4-3 victory against the Rangers on Thursday, then scored three times on Saturday in a 5-1 victory against New Jersey.

For the week, he had five goals and two assists for seven points in three games -- and enters this week riding a five-game goal-scoring streak. His 11 goals have him tied with Pittsburgh’s James Neal in the League goal-scoring, one behind Buffalo’s Thomas Vanek. 

Five up -- Five other players who had a good week:

Viktor Fasth-- Anaheim’s first-year goaltender is 30, meaning he’s too old to win the Calder Trophy. He’s had to settle for one of the great career starts in NHL history. Fasth allowed two goals in each of his three starts last week and won all three, giving him an 8-0-0 record. He’s one win short of matching the NHL record for most consecutive victories at the start of a career.

Pekka Rinne -- Nashville’s All-Star goaltender was almost unbeatable last week, shutting out San Jose and Phoenix in back-to-back games before losing 3-2 to Anaheim in a shootout. He leads the NHL with three shutouts in the first four weeks of the season.

Sidney Crosby-- Pittsburgh is back on top of the Atlantic Division after winning all three games last week, with Crosby scoring a goal and adding two assists in wins against Ottawa and Buffalo. He’s tied for the League lead in assists with 17 and is second to Vanek in the points race with 24.

Jiri Tlusty-- The big forward had a brilliant two-night swing during Carolina’s trip through the New York area last week. Tlusty had four third-period points as the Hurricanes rallied to beat the Islanders, then scored two more goals the next night in a 4-2 win at New Jersey.

Mike Cammalleri-- After missing three games with a hip flexor injury, Cammalleri made an instant impact when he returned to Calgary’s lineup, notching a hat trick and adding an assist in a 7-4 home win against Dallas. He added another goal in the rematch on Sunday as the Flames won in Texas.

Five down -- Five players who didn’t:

Olli Jokinen-- The Jets signed Jokinen to give them some offense up the middle. Instead, Jokinen has gone seven games without a point and has just two goals and two assists in his first 14 games with Winnipeg.

Jason Pominville-- Although he usually plays on the same line as NHL scoring leader Thomas Vanek, Buffalo’s captain has had the same line in each of the last six games -- no goals, no points and a minus-1 rating.

Viktor Stalberg
Viktor Stalberg
Right Wing - CHI
GOALS: 3 | ASST: 3 | PTS: 6
SOG: 27 | +/-: 2
Erik Cole-- After scoring a career-high 35 goals in his first season with Montreal, Cole has yet to get untracked in 2012-13. He’s gone without a point for the past two weeks, covering six games, and is minus-5 during that span.

Viktor Stalberg-- The Chicago Blackhawks continue to dominate opponents, but they haven’t been getting a lot of help from Stalberg, who’s gone four games without a point after scoring 22 goals and getting 43 points last season.

Simon Gagne-- The Kings hoped that a healthy Gagne would give them an offensive boost as they try to defend their championship, but it hasn’t been happening. The two-time 40-goal scorer has gone five games without a point and has just five assists in 11 games this season.

The week ahead -- The New York Islanders won’t have much practice time this week -- they’ll be too busy playing. The Isles have a rare five-game week, with only Wednesday and Friday as off days. At least two of the games are at home -- Columbus, Vancouver and Winnipeg play all four of their games on the road. San Jose continues its trek through the Midwest by playing the second half of a six-game trip.

Games to watch:

Nashville at Colorado (Feb. 18; NHL Network-US) -- The Predators make a stop in Denver for an afternoon meeting with the Avalanche that’s the front end of an NHL Network doubleheader for U.S. viewers. In the nightcap, Carolina visits Montreal (a game that’s available in Canada on RDS).

San Jose at St. Louis (Feb. 19; NBCSN/TSN2) -- The Blues return home from a three-game trip to host the reeling Sharks, who won their first seven games but lost the next seven.

Philadelphia at Pittsburgh (Feb. 20 NBCSN/RDS/TSN2) -- Rivalry Night features a meeting between two of the NHL’s bitterest rivals, with the Flyers trying to slow down the Atlantic Division-leading Penguins. It’s the first half of a doubleheader that also includes St. Louis at Colorado.

Boston at Tampa Bay (Feb. 21; NHL Network-US) -- The Bruins, one of the top teams in the East, come off a three-day break when they travel to Tampa Bay, where the Lightning have cooled off after a hot start.

San Jose at Chicago (Feb. 22; NHL Network-US) -- If the Blackhawks can avoid losing in regulation at home against Vancouver on Tuesday, they’ll have a chance to make history against the Sharks -- a win or overtime/shootout loss would give them points in their first 17 games, which would be an NHL record.

Colorado at Los Angeles (Feb. 23; NHL Network-US) -- The Kings return from a four-game road trip to host Colorado in an afternoon game that’s the start of an NHL Network twin bill for U.S. viewers; Nashville visits Detroit in the evening.

Boston at Florida (Feb. 24; NHL Network-US) -- The Bruins finish a two-game swing through the Sunshine State by visiting the Panthers for the only time this season.

Tampa Bay at Pittsburgh (Feb. 24; NBCSN/TSN2) -- Viewers in both the United States and Canada can tune in for a Sunday night showdown featuring the Lightning’s Steven Stamkos and Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

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