Tavares’ OT goal for Isles beats ailing Ducks 3-2
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — With Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry at home with the flu, the New York Islanders couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity to snag two points from the NHL-leading Anaheim Ducks.
John Tavares made sure the Isles took advantage of the absence of his Canadian Olympic teammates in a skid-snapping win.
Tavares scored his second goal on a power play 2:18 into overtime, and New York ended its three-game slump with a 3-2 victory over the injury-depleted Ducks on Wednesday night.
Getzlaf and NHL goals leader Perry were sent home before the game, leaving the league-leading Ducks to open a four-game homestand without their two best skaters and their top two goalies, who have also been fighting injuries.
The Islanders seized the chance with a big game from Tavares, who also scored in the opening minutes.
"We didn’t even talk about it, to be honest," Tavares said of the Ducks’ absences. "It’s a deep team over there, and they’re a great hockey team for a number of reasons. Obviously, (Getzlaf and Perry) are a big part of it, but we just talked a lot about what we had to do, and the areas where we wanted to be more effective."
Jaroslav Halak made 32 saves and Kyle Okposo had a goal and an assist for the Islanders, who blew an early two-goal lead in their third stop on a five-game trip.
After Sami Vatanen was sent off for elbowing in the Ducks’ offensive zone in overtime, Tavares’ long shot apparently deflected off Ryan Kesler’s stick for his sixth goal.
"It was good luck for us," Halak said. "We need points, and we need to win games after being in a little slump. … It was a big win for us, even though they didn’t have their two best offensive guys."
Jason LaBarbera stopped 33 shots in his second appearance for Anaheim. Matt Beleskey and Emerson Etem scored second-period goals for the Ducks, who had won 10 of 12.
Even with their biggest stars at home, the Ducks were dismayed by a dismal start before a strong finish.
"We expect too much in here to be satisfied in our home building with this result with the group that we have," defenseman Cam Fowler said. "(The comeback) shows that we’re a resilient group, but that’s going to run out at some point. We’ve got to start out and get the lead and keep it. … Those are two leaders that are very vocal in our room, so they’re always missed. But we have other guys who need to step up."
Getzlaf and Perry have been staples in the Ducks’ lineup since the 2005-06 season. They hadn’t missed the same game due to injury since March 28, 2008, a span of 471 regular-season games and 45 playoff contests, although they were healthy scratches together in last season’s finale.
"They’re two of the best players in the world," Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said. "You’re going to miss them. The biggest challenge is finding line combinations, but we’ve always prided ourselves on depth. This gave guys an opportunity to step up."
LaBarbera filled in capably for Frederik Andersen, who was healthy enough to be a backup after missing Anaheim’s last game with leg tightness. Backup John Gibson will be sidelined by a groin injury for six weeks.
Tavares put the Islanders ahead just 3:38 in, and Okposo scored 10 seconds into the second period on a power play.
Beleskey trimmed the lead with a power-play goal set up by tic-tac-toe passing.
"We haven’t been getting a lot of bounces," Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic said. "That one that we gave up on the kill, that’s the way goals have been going in against us. You just try to work through it."
Anaheim recording 11 consecutive shots at one point in the second period before Etem evened it with a low shot through Devante Smith-Pelly’s legs.
NOTES: The Ducks nearly took the lead early in the third when Hamonic slid into the New York net with the puck, but a lengthy video replay determined it never crossed the line. … New York hasn’t allowed fewer than two goals in any game this season. … Islanders forward Casey Cizikas was scratched for the first time this season after 11 scoreless games. Eric Boulton made his season debut. Defenseman Brian Strait also was scratched for the second straight game.