John Tavares scored his first NHL hat trick last night when the Islanders took on the Florida Panthers. On a night that Bill Torrey was honored with the Islanders’ fathers in attendance, JT scored two goals on the power play and one at even strength to keep his team in the game, but it wasn’t enough as Radek Dvorak would bury a late one to put the game out of reach.
Tavares, who missed three games with a mild concussion he sustained on opening night, has come back looking to make up for lost time. His hat trick puts him first on the team in goals with five scored in the five games he has played. He is also in a three way tie for third on the team in points with Blake Comeau and Matt Moulson, as they each all have seven.
P.A. Parenteau and James Wisniewski were on the ice for the two power play goals scored by Tavares and were responsible with the assists on both occasions. Parenteau is surprisingly leading the pack with nine points on the year. The Wiz is right behind him with eight. The two of them have combined to be a very effective unit on the power play as Wisniewski continues to work shots from the point while Parenteau continues to find open ice, bury his chances and send crisp passes to his line mates.
The loss was Rick DiPietro’s first of the year, as he is now 2-1-2 with a 3.31 GAA. At times Rick is making saves that shows he still has the potential to return to his form as an all-star goaltender. Then at other times he gives up big rebounds and lets in a few soft goals that you know he would like to have back. If the Islanders offense continues to stay in the shape that it has been from the start of the season, DP will have the support he needs to shake off the rust without it costing his team any points in the standings.
Josh Bailey sat out again to nurse his hip. The Islanders do not play again until they visit the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday. The training staff seems to have learned from their mistakes with Ricky and the fact that Streit, Okposo and Schremp are injured has seemed to provide the staff with a little more caution. The team has managed to stay upbeat and confident despite those huge losses, but things could get tragic if anyone else goes down for a long period of time.
Although the winning streak is over, the Islanders have plenty to be proud of and have earned their way to sit second in the Atlantic Division, just a point shy of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Many Isles fans probably never thought that they would hear the Isles were chasing or tied with the Pens in points this early in the year. This team has shown plenty of potential and should only get better as the injured ones make their way back on the ice.