Isles provide Brooklyn with holiday cheer
Tavares, Martin Help New York Snap Three-Game Losing Streak
Matt Martin’s flying fists and team captain John Tavares’ emergence from an extended slump paved the way for the New York Islanders’ 5-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks Monday night in front of 13,578 puck enthusiasts at Downtown’s Barclays Center.
The Islanders (19-11-5, 43 points) had dropped three straight games following their season-high 10-game points streak, and appeared en route to yet another defeat on the eve of their five-day holiday break.
Trailing the visiting Ducks, 1-0, following former Ranger Carl Hagelin’s first-period tally, the Islanders, limited to only two goals during their recent slide, turned to Martin for a bit of violent inspiration.
The team’s self-appointed enforcer dropped his gloves and went at it with Anaheim’s Josh Manson at the 12-minute mark, connecting with a pair of hard rights to bring the crowd to its feet.
Less than three minutes later, the Islanders struck for the first of three first-period goals to take the lead for good.
“It was the right thing to do,” New York head coach Jack Capuano said of Martin’s tough-guy antics. “It gave us momentum.”
It also got Tavares going.
The two-time Hart Trophy finalist had gone 12 straight games without an assist before providing the primary helpers on tallies by Travis Hamonic and Brock Nelson after fourth-liner Cal Clutterbuck had evened the contest with just over five minutes remaining in the opening stanza.
The three-goal outburst, preserved by Jaroslav Halak’s 27-save effort, sparked New York to its first win since a 4-0 triumph over New Jersey here on Dec. 13, and moved the Isles one point ahead of the Rangers into second place in the Metropolitan Division standings.
It also gave Islander players a chance to enjoy their respective Christmas breaks without worrying about a four-game slide.
“It was good to get this win right before the holidays to feel good about ourselves before we start the second half,” noted Martin, who added an empty-net goal in the third period to squelch any hopes of an Anaheim comeback.
“We had a little bit of a losing streak there that we needed to find our way out of, and we got some big goals tonight,” he added.
As for Tavares, who put together his first multi-point night since Nov. 16 against Arizona, getting on the scoresheet wasn’t enough to shake his recent frustrations.
During a second-period skirmish in which he was repeatedly slashed, the normally mild-mannered center did some glove-dropping of his own, getting into a bout with fellow captain Ryan Getzlaf of the Ducks.
“It was heat of the moment,” Tavares said. “I’d had enough. Probably not my smartest decision.”
But his teammates certainly took note of their superstar’s grit.
“It’s not easy to drop the gloves,” Hamonic said. “He steps up against a pretty big guy in Getzlaf, a tough guy and it certainly sparks your bench when your best player, your captain and one of the best players in the league does something he doesn’t do all that often.”
The Isles will return to the ice Sunday evening against Toronto at Barclays Center.
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