The 20-year-old forward scored three goals for his second NHL hat trick, and Rick DiPietro(notes) made 40 saves to help the Islanders beat the Buffalo Sabres 5-3 on Saturday night and snap a three-game losing streak.
“Getting a natural hat trick is always nice,” Tavares said. “We did a lot of things right.”
DiPietro played for the first time since he injured a groin during New York’s five-game road trip.
“I felt great,” DiPietro said. “We had a better effort and a much better start.”
The first period was scoreless, but featured several scoring chances. The best came with less than seven minutes remaining when Tavares ripped a shot that Miller snagged with his glove as he dived.
Buffalo started the second period with a two-man advantage, and grabbed a 1-0 lead 17 seconds in when Vanek tipped Tyler Ennis’ shot past DiPietro.
But the Islanders had no complaints about their franchise goalie.
“Rick was awesome,” Comeau said. “We also did a good job of hitting the neutral zone with speed.”
The Islanders tied it when Tavares sent a wrist shot under the crossbar from in close at 7:50.
Tavares struck again at 10:34 on a power play when he backhanded Matt Moulson’s(notes) attempt past Miller to give the Islanders a 2-1 lead. Tavares completed the hat trick when he put in a rebound at 13:36, scoring his team-leading 18th goal.
Comeau pushed the Islanders’ lead to 4-1 with a shot off a rebound that got past Miller at 15:25. Comeau has scored in three straight games.
“We gave them every opportunity to capitalize in the second,” Miller said. “Tavares is a very tough kid.”
Ennis scored on a power-play rebound at 5:45 of the third period, cutting the deficit to 4-2. But Grabner put the Islanders back up by three goals with a short-handed tally at 16:52.
Miller was injured on the scoring play, but stayed in the game after being checked out by trainers.
Hecht finished the scoring with 1:45 left.
That wasn’t enough to overcome the effort by Tavares, who has scored 10 goals in 15 games.
“John has always had a consistent effort,” DiPietro said. “He’s learning how to gear up for an 82-game season. It’s not an easy thing to do, especially for a 20-year old.”
NOTES: The teams will play each other three times this month, twice on Long Island.