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Islanders 5, Maple Leafs 3

The SportsXchange

TORONTO -- John Tavares scored twice and added an assist, and the New York Islanders erased an early 2-0 deficit, scoring five unanswered goals to defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-3 Thursday night.

New York (23-16-5) improved to 16-2-1 when leading after two periods. The Islanders now have points in nine straight games (7-0-2), their longest point streak since the start of 2001-02, season when they went 9-0-1.

Tavares, who entered Thursday having failed to register a point in three straight games, scored first- and second-period goals to give the Islanders a 4-2 lead after 40 minutes.

The Islanders sniper set up former Maple Leaf Brad Boyes midway through the first period, cutting Toronto's lead in half. Matt Moulson tied the game 2-2 six minutes later. Tavares then kept the puck on a 2-on-1 and beat Leafs goalie James Reimer to give the Islanders a 3-2 lead after 20 minutes.

Tavares made it 4-2 in the second when he beat Reimer with a wrist shot glove-side off a Moulson feed.

New York's top line of Tavares, Boyes and Moulson combined for eight points in the win.

Tavares, a native of Oakville, Ontario, now has eight goals in 15 career games against the Maple Leafs.

Frans Nielsen made it 5-2, slapping a Kyle Okposo feed past Reimer midway through the third.

Dion Phaneuf got the Leafs to within two in the final minute.

Toronto (24-15-5) scored twice less than two minutes apart to open an early lead.

Joffrey Lupul got the Leafs on the board with a solo effort. As he was cutting to the net, Matt Carkner shoved Lupul into the net, and the puck slipped past Evgeni Nabokov.

The goal was Lupul's ninth of the season and also his 100th point as a member of the Leafs.

Moments later, on a Leafs power play, Cody Franson put a Tyler Bozak no-look feed past a sprawling Nabokov for his fourth of the season.

Thursday marked the first time the Leafs lost back-to-back games in regulation since March 12 and March 14. The defeat also snapped Toronto's three-game home win streak. The Leafs had won seven of eight at the Air Canada Centre coming in.

NOTES: New York, which entered Thursday in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, looks poised to make the playoffs for the first time since 2007. ... Leafs forward Clarke MacArthur returned to the lineup after being a healthy scratch Tuesday in Washington. ... Toronto defenseman Carl Gunnarsson missed his third straight game with a lower-body injury. ... Casey Cizikas, who suffered an upper-body injury blocking a shot on Tuesday, was in the Islanders' lineup. ... Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel played in the 500th game of his career. ... Jack Capuano moved into second place on the wins list in Islanders franchise history on Tuesday with his 82nd victory. Capuano trails only Al Arbour, who ranks first with 740 wins.

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