27-13-1 (55 points)
1st place, Metropolitan Division
2nd place, Eastern Conference
New York Islanders: The Power of John Tavares Compels You.
Exactly half way through the regular season, the New York Islanders are in first place of the Metropolitan Division, one point ahead of the Penguins. With 55 points, they trail only the Tampa Bay Lightning (58 points) for the conference lead.
They've scored the most goals in their division, and the third most in the conference behind Tampa and Toronto.
Friday night, the Islanders hooked up against the Newark Devils at The Rock. Entering the game, the Isles went 2-2 during their recent trek into Canada, with both losses (particularly to Edmonton) coming on the back end.
Islanders lead series 3-0
Three points by John Tavares helped Long Island snap that two game skid, as the Isles fought their way to a third straight victory over the Devils this season.
After a tightly contested 1st period, Travis Zajac gave Newark a 1-0 lead midway through the 2nd.
Shortly after Zajac's goal, Matt Martin felt his team needed a swift skate in the posterior, so he took it out on the Devils Mark Fraser. Fraser had a tight, jersey grip inside jab going, while Martin relied on hooks and straight rights. After the two connected on their share of haymakers, Martin dropped Fraser to the ice with one last shot to the head.
John Tavares then took care of the rest. A minute into the 3rd period, he was credited with a secondary assist on Josh Bailey's game tying goal.
At the 7:23 mark, old/new Devil Scott Gomez put Newark back on top, but roughly 6-minutes later, John Tavares scored his 18th goal of the season to knot the game at two.
....and into overtime they went.
At 2:57 into the extra session, a forechecking John Tavares picked defenseman Adam Larsson's pocket along the boards behind the Devils net. By 3:01, Tavares was circling back towards net, and at 3:03 put a move on Adam Henrique and Peter Harrold that had them standing still. At 3:05, John Tavares put the puck passed Devils back-up goalie Keith Kinkaid for the win.
The Devils entered the game with a 3-4 record since firing Peter DeBoer on December 26th. Prior to the firing, the Devils were stumbling along with a 12-17-7 record.
After two stints on injured reserve, Michael Grabner returned to the ice on Tuesday against the Canucks. In two games back, he has 4 SOG. For the moment, defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky is on IR, which made room for Grabner.
This situation will need some weeding out, but at who's expense?
New York Islanders
Columbus Blue Jackets
Some rink in Ohio
(Penguins @ Habs)