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Tavares' OT goal lifts Isles to 2-1 victory

by Brian Compton /

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- John Tavares finally got back on the scoresheet Wednesday night, and the timing couldn't have been better.

Tavares, who hadn't scored a goal since Nov. 24, beat Dan Ellis at 3:23 of overtime to lift the New York Islanders to a 2-1 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

New York (7-18-6), which has points in three straight games (2-0-1), visits New Jersey on Thursday night. The Isles -- who received 34 saves from Dwayne Roloson -- can actually pass the Devils in the standings with a victory.

"The last three games have been something to build on," Tavares said. "We've just got to make sure we keep focused on that. We can't get complacent at all. We know how tough it's been for us the last month and a half. We have to move forward and get something going here."

The Lightning (19-10-5) continue their tour of New York on Thursday night against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

Tavares, picked first in the 2009 Entry Draft, won the battle of No. 1 overall picks against 2008 choiceSteven Stamkos of Tampa Bay when he tucked home the rebound ofJames Wisniewski's shot for his ninth of the season. He has two of New York's three overtime winners this season.

"I don't think we really played that great all game," Stamkos said. "We knew it was going to be a tough game. They've been playing well of late. We didn't capitalize on our special teams and kept them in the game. We got one point, but it wasn't our best game."

Tampa Bay got on the board first when Ryan Malone scored via the power play at 11:28 of the opening period. After Isles forward Trevor Gillies was called for interference,Brett Clark sent the puck towards the slot, where it banked offTravis Hamonic's skate and right to Malone in the slot. He quickly roofed a shot over Roloson to give the Lightning a 1-0 lead. It was Malone's 10th goal of the season, but it was also the only power-play goal Tampa Bay tallied in five opportunities.

"If we could've gotten another goal on a power play, maybe a two-goal lead would've changed things a little bit," Malone said.

The Islanders took three penalties in the first period and were outshot 16-3. It was 20-3 early in the second before Lightning forward Nate Thompson took a hooking penalty at 2:48.

"They were outshooting us for a while pretty bad," said Isles forward Josh Bailey, who returned to the lineup after spending a month in the American Hockey League. "When I looked up and saw the shots, I was surprised to see they were outshooting us that bad. We were getting good pressure, we just weren't getting pucks to the net."

New York tightened up defensively in the second period and tied the game with just 17 seconds remaining onPA Parenteau's sixth goal of the season. With the teams at even strength, Tavares outskatedMike Lundin and Mattias Ohlund to a dump-in behind the net and quickly sent the puck out in front, where Parenteau one-timed it between Ellis' pads to make it 1-1. The Isles outshot the Lightning 10-9 in the middle period.

The Islanders again outshot the Lightning 10-9 in the third period, but neither team was able to find the back of the net. Parenteau had the best chance early in the period when he skated in alone and fired a backhander that was denied by Ellis.

"The first period, we weren't very good," Isles interim coach Jack Capuano said. "We took some bad penalties. We responded well for the second and third. They've got the belief right now. They're a good bunch of kids. They're working hard, and that's all we can ask."

Roloson made a nice glove save against Dominic Moore later in the period. He stopped all 18 shots he faced over the second and third periods to keep his club in the game and helped it win for the first time this season when trailing after the first period (1-13-3). Capuano said afterwards he hasn't decided if Roloson will play again Thursday at the Prudential Center.

"It was a great team effort," Roloson said. "Our guys did a great job defensively and offensively. We had a lot of odd-man rushes in the third. Defensively, our guys gave me an opportunity to see pucks. It was great."

For the Islanders, it was especially great to see Tavares score for the first time in almost a month, a span of nine games.

"It's always frustrating for anybody when you go through those spells," defenseman Andrew MacDonald said. "He's a point guy and he expects a lot of himself. It's not from a lack of effort. You can seem him work out there, trying to create things. It was definitely nice to see him pop that one."

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL

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