John Tavares recorded a hat trick and the New York Islanders went 3-for-4 on the power play as they defeated the Nashville Predators 6-2.
- New York Islanders 6 (5-4-1, 11 points)
- Nashville Predators 2 (5-3-2, 12 points)
- NYI Goals: Jordan Eberle 2 (2) (1 PPG), Ryan Pulock (1) (PPG), John Tavares 3 (9) (1 PPG),
- NSH Goals: Filip Forsberg (8), Craig Smith (3) (PPG)
- NHL, Final, Boxscore
- Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, TN
Led by three power-play goals—the last resulting in a natural hat trick for John Tavares—the New York Islanders embarrassed the previously undefeated-at-home Nashville Predators by a score of 6-2.
The revamped power play configuration and lines paid off for the Isles early. Jordan Eberle took a pass from Ryan Pulock and threw it at the net, where it got past Predators backup netminder Juuse Saros.
It would be Eberle’s first goal as an Islander, assisted by Anthony Beauvillier and Ryan Pulock. While that one-goal lead held up for the rest of the period, it didn’t take Nashville long to even things up in the second.
Just 3:55 into the second stanza, Filip Forsberg smashed a juicy rebound past Greiss to even things up at one.
Poor defense by the Islanders was the culprit on this one. Both Calvin de Haan and Josh Bailey were on the original shooter, Kevin Fiala. Had one of them looked for the trailer, perhaps that rebound gets cleared away.
But it was a defender—Pulock—who put the Islanders back in front. Brock Nelson won the faceoff and kicked it back to Pulock, who went cross-ice to Beauvillier then crushed the return on a one-timer from the point for a 2-1 Isles lead—and their second powerplay goal of the night.
With 30 seconds left in the period, Mathew Barzal carried the puck into the offensive zone and made a perfect cross-ice pass to Eberle in the slot. Eberle fired a wrister past Saros for his second of the night, giving the Islanders a 3-1 lead.
John Tavares would make it a 4-1 lead for the Islanders just 12 seconds into the third period. Johnny Boychuk fired the puck around the boards, Tavares deflected a Predators pass behind the net out in front for a waiting Anders Lee. Saros stopped Lee, but couldn’t control the rebound, which Tavares poked in.
But the captain wasn’t finished. Just 2:40 after picking up his first road point of the season (you read that right), Tavares did the dirty work in the corner and along the boards, keeping the puck away from the Predators. He’d find Lee on the doorstep, who passed it back to Tavares for his second of the game.
The goal was originally credited to Lee but ultimately awarded to Tavares. That turned out to be huge because JT did this next.
That’s the second natural hat trick of Tavares’ career—and his second hat trick in his past three games. Craig Smith would cut the Islanders’ lead to four with a power-play goal with 6:03 left in the game, but that was all the offense Nashville could muster.
Six Islanders had multi-point nights: Eberle and Tavares both finished with three, while Beauvillier, Lee, Nelson and Pulock each had two points.
More importantly, the power play woke up. While there were no fights, perhaps the most important thing to come out of this game is this: the Islanders started to fight back. Lots of scrums and scuffles, many which were the result of the Islanders taking exception to something the Predators did. Standing up for each other is crucial to this team’s success.
The Isles return home to Barclays Center on Monday for their first-ever game against the expansion Las Vegas Golden Knights. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET.