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Tavares helps Islanders beat struggling Rangers 4-3 in SO
By VIN A. CHERWOO
NEW YORK (AP) John Tavares came through in the shootout and helped the New York Islanders keep up their recent domination of their struggling crosstown rivals.
Tavares got the deciding goal in the shootout to lift the Islanders to a 4-3 win Thursday night, beating the Rangers for the eighth time in the last nine games. Anders Lee, Brock Nelson and Mathew Barzal scored in regulation, and Jaroslav Halak stopped 38 shots as the Islanders recovered after blowing a two-goal lead in the third to finish 2-2-0 on a four-game trip.
"They found some momentum and some energy and brought a lot (in the third period), but we did a good job for the most part to get it to overtime, get a point and find a way in the shootout," Tavares said.
David Desharnais, Mats Zuccarello and Kevin Hayes scored, and Henrik Lundqvist finished with 35 saves for the Rangers, who earned a point for the second straight game but lost their fifth straight (0-3-2) to fall to 1-5-2. It's their fewest points after eight games since they were 1-6-1 to start the 1959-60 season. Back then, teams got a point for a tie, and there was no overtime or shootouts.
Jordan Eberle scored for the Islanders and Zuccarello got one for the Rangers in the first round of the shootout. Halak then stopped Mika Zibanejad and, after Tavares scored, Halak denied Desharnais to secure the win.
"He's a confident goaltender," Islanders coach Doug Weight said of Halak. "He doesn't get too rattled. It was a big win, and he was a big part of it."
The Rangers trailed 3-1 after two periods and pulled within one about 3 1/2 minutes into the third. Brandan Smith rushed up the ice and tried to send a pass across in front to Hayes. Lee got his stick on the puck to block the pass, but Zuccarello swooped in and put it past Halak.
Smith appeared to tie it with about 7:53 left when the puck went off his left skate, then his right skate and in. The goal was disallowed after a video review because officials ruled he had kicked the puck in.
Hayes tied it about two minutes later on a backhander at a sharp angle as he passed the goal line.
"We battled back again tonight," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "We buckled down, our guys worked extremely hard. Maybe our execution might not be perfect, but the work ethic in that room and the commitment to try and play the right way is there."
Barzal gave the Islanders a 3-1 lead with his first career goal early in the second. The 20-year-old skated around Rick Nash, went in on Lundqvist and chipped it over the goalie's glove at 1:15. Teammate Josh Bailey then retrieved the puck for Barzal, who was playing in his ninth NHL game.
Lee got the Islanders on the scoreboard first with their first power-play goal of the season as he put in a diving rebound of a shot by Ryan Pulock, who was making his season debut, past Lundqvist 2:40 into the game. The Islanders came in 0 for 20 with the man advantage over their first six games.
"We made a couple of adjustments, some things we wanted to emphasize," Tavares said of the Islanders' power play. "It was a good job, nice to obviously get one and get that monkey off our back. Hopefully it leads to some more good opportunities and some more results."
Desharnais tied it at 5:02 when he tipped a shot by Kevin Shattenkirk from the right point past Halak.
Nelson put the Islanders back in front just 1:04 later, shooting a wrist shot past three players into the upper left corner past a screened Lundqvist. It was Nelson's fourth of the season and the 13th first-period goal allowed by the Rangers.
"I've got to be better, as a group we got to be better," Lundqvist said. "Just really focus on the first 10 (minutes) to give ourselves a chance to feel good about ourselves. But still, being down 3-1, we stick to our system and played a really strong third."
NOTES: Halak played in his 400th career game and improved to 214-126-42. ... Tavares was held without a point for the fifth straight game since he had two goals and an assist in a 6-3 win over Buffalo on Oct. 7. ... The teams will meet three more times: back at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 13, and at Barclays Center on Feb. 15 and April 5. ... Shattenkirk's assist on Desharnais' goal gave him five assists and seven points in eight games this season. ... Desharnais now has five goals and 16 points in 20 career games against the Islanders. ... The Rangers fell to 0-3-1 when giving up the first goal.
Islanders: Host San Jose on Saturday night to open a two-game homestand.
Rangers: Host Nashville on Saturday in the fourth game of a season-high five-game homestand.
Follow Vin Cherwoo on Twitter at www.twitter.com/VinCherwooAP
More AP NHL coverage: https://www.apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey
Updated October 19, 2017