UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Even before John Tavares became the new captain of the New York Islanders, he developed a knack for netting game-winning goals.
Nothing has changed in that regard since he got the ’C’ on his sweater.
Tavares put the Islanders in front late in the second period, and New York overcame a quick two-goal spurt by Edmonton’s Taylor Hall for a 3-2 victory over the Oilers on Thursday night.
New York (3-2-2) has played six one-goal games this season and this time maintained their slim advantage throughout a scoreless third period against the skidding Oilers (1-6-1).
The 23-year-old Tavares, who became captain last month, has points in six straight games.
“We were really focused tonight and we kept their skilled players at bay,” said Tavares, who led the Islanders with 28 goals last season. “I like the way we kept it together in the third. It was a good way for us to finish it off.”
Tavares beat goalie Devan Dubnyk with a snap shot in front with 1:07 left in the second off a pass from Kyle Okposo. It was his fourth goal of the season.
Okposo had scored his second during a power play at 4:54 of the middle period to make it 2-2. Josh Bailey put New York ahead 1-0 in the first before Hall struck.
Hall gave the Oilers a 2-1 lead when he scored a pair of goals just 8 seconds apart in the first. That broke the club mark of 9 seconds, set by Wayne Gretzky on Feb. 18, 1981.
That was little solace for Hall and the struggling Oilers, whose only win was a 5-4 shootout home victory over New Jersey on Oct. 7.
“It’s an empty feeling because a loss is a loss,” said the 21-year-old Hall, the No. 1 pick in the 2010 NHL draft, one year after Tavares had the same honour. “It’s great to know I have the record but tonight wasn’t our best effort. The wheels have really fallen off for us as these losses have piled up.”
Hall, who has three goals on the season, displayed plenty of frustration.
“We had the lead and chance to grab the reins and we didn’t do it,” he said.