Islanders hold off Predators to end skid
A return to Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum and a visit from the road-weary Nashville Predators were just what the New York Islanders needed to end a four-game losing streak.
Kevin Poulin stopped 32 shots and John Tavares had a goal and an assist to lead the Islanders to a 3-1 victory Tuesday night in their first home game after going 0-4-0 on a week-long road trip.
The Predators, playing the sixth of a seven-game road trip, came to New York after back-to-back 5-0 losses to the Winnipeg Jets and New Jersey Devils. They trailed 3-0 before Patric Hornqvist ended Poulin's shutout bid with 5:30 left in regulation, snapping a streak of 13 unanswered goals and a scoring drought of 174:48.
Nashville's trip ends Friday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
It was the Islanders' first win against the Predators in regulation since a 5-2 victory in Nashville on April 11, 2002, and their first at the Coliseum since beating the Predators 2-1 on Nov. 7, 2000. Nashville had been 8-0-2 in its past 10 meetings against the Islanders, including a 3-2 victory at Bridgestone Arena on Oct. 12.
Tavares' two points gave him 22, one behind League leaders Sidney Crosby of the Penguins and Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning. He appeared to be shaken up midway through the third period after losing an edge and crashing into the boards. He went briefly to the Islanders' dressing room, but returned.
The Islanders (7-9-3) controlled play throughout the first 20 minutes, outshooting Nashville 16-10 and attempting 34 shots to 16 for the Predators (8-8-2). More important, they put two of them in the net to take their first lead in a week.
Nashville killed two penalties, but the Islanders capitalized on their third power-play chance. With David Legwand in the box for elbowing, Frans Nielsen found Tavares all alone in the slot for a one-timer past rookie goaltender Marek Mazanec at 15:30. It was Tavares' eighth of the season and gave the Islanders their first lead since they were ahead of the Washington Capitals 1-0 early in the second period last Tuesday.
Pierre-Marc Bouchard gave the Islanders a two-goal lead at 17:23 with a goal Mazanec would like to have back. Bouchard moved down to the bottom of the right circle and took a bad-angled shot that went between Mazanec and the post for his fourth goal of the season and second in as many games.
Nashville pressed Poulin early in the second period but couldn't beat him, and the Islanders made it 3-0 at 7:07 on an unselfish play by Tavares. Brock Nelson's pass found the Islanders captain in the slot, but instead of shooting he drew the defense and goaltender to him before sliding a pass to Kyle Okposo for a one-timer from the left circle that Mazanec had no chance to stop. It was Okposo's sixth goal of the season, two more than he had in all of 2012-13. It was also Okposo's 20th point, which leads all American players this season.
The three-goal lead was the first for the Islanders since they beat the Phoenix Coyotes 6-1 on Oct. 8.
Hornqvist ended Poulin's bid for his first NHL shutout when he took a pass from Legwand and scored his sixth of the season.