Tavares nets natural hat trick, Islanders top Predators 6-2
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — John Tavares had another hat trick and the Islanders finally found some power-play success.
New York’s captain scored a natural hat trick in the third period, leading the Islanders to a 6-2 victory over the Nashville Predators on Saturday night.
It was Tavares’ second hat trick in three games and the eighth of his NHL career.
“The execution was good,” Tavares said. “We played with pace. We were hard, hard on pucks and just played an up-tempo game.”
Jordan Eberle scored twice and Ryan Pulock had a goal for New York. Anders Lee, Brock Nelson and Anthony Beauvillier each had two assists to help the Islanders win for the fourth time in five games. Jaroslav Halak made 28 saves.
Filip Forsberg and Craig Smith scored for the Predators, who have lost three of four.
With the Islanders on a power play in the first period, Eberle’s shot from the left faceoff circle beat goalie Juuse Saros between the pads for his first goal of the season.
“That definitely reinforces the fact that you’ve got to get the puck to the net,” New York coach Doug Weight said. “I thought they entered well — the thing we focused on the last 24 hours.”
New York began the day with the NHL’s worst power play at 6.1 percent, scoring only two man-advantage goals in the first 10 games. The Islanders connected on three of five opportunities against the Predators.
“We worked a lot on it yesterday, some different units,” Eberle said. “It’s good that both of us got it going.”
Forsberg tied it at 3:55 of the second. Kevin Fiala drove the right side and his shot from in tight was stopped by Halak. Skating through the slot, Forsberg grabbed the rebound and drifted to the right before lifting a wrist shot under the crossbar for his eighth of the season.
“It was a roller coaster,” Forsberg said. “First period was not good enough, and then second period, we dominate. Then they score early in the third and we just shut down, it feels like. That’s not acceptable.”
The Islanders regained the lead at 9:55 of the second on a power-play goal from Pulock.
From above the right circle, Beauvillier sent a pass to Pulock in the center of the blue line, where he beat Saros with a one-timer low to the stick side.
Eberle struck again at 19:30 of the second with a wrist shot from the low slot.
“Anytime you get a two-goal cushion, it’s nice,” Eberle said.
Tavares scored his seventh of the season just 12 seconds into the third. Behind the Nashville net, Tavares disrupted a clearing attempt by Saros, with the puck going to Lee in the low slot. Lee threw the puck toward the net, where Tavares tipped it by Saros.
Tavares scored 2:40 later when he redirected Lee’s shot from the left circle. He completed the hat trick and scored New York’s third power-play goal of the night at 7:26.
Smith concluded the scoring with a power-play goal at 13:57.
Making his third start this season, Saros finished with 17 saves.
“There’s definitely things that we could have done better in front of him,” Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. “There were some redirect goals. There were some funny bounces there in the third period that came out right on somebody’s stick and ended up knocking it home. There’s not much that he could do on those.”
NOTES: Forsberg’s eighth goal set a franchise record for the season’s first month. ... All three of Saros’ starts this season have come against Eastern Conference opponents. ... Lee has points in four straight games. ... New York RW Josh Bailey had an assist to extend his point streak to six games.
Islanders: Host the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday.
Predators: At the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday.
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