Maple Leafs-Islanders Preview

The Associated Press

The Toronto Maple Leafs did what no team has been able to do lately - slow down All-Star John Tavares.

They'll get another chance to keep the New York Islanders leading scorer in check Tuesday night when these teams close a home-and-home set at Nassau Coliseum.

Tavares entered Monday's game against the Maple Leafs as arguably the league's hottest player, tallying eight goals and 13 assists during an NHL season-high 12-game point streak.

That production helped the Islanders win a season high-tying three straight and eight of 12, but the Maple Leafs (24-19-5) kept Tavares - and the rest of his teammates - off the scoresheet in a 3-0 victory.

"Really it doesn't matter a whole lot ... what I try to do is contribute offensively and we didn't get the win tonight, so that's what matters the most and what I'm most worried about," Tavares told the NHL's official website. "It's over. I'll just move on and get ready to play tomorrow."

Leafs All-Star Joffrey Lupul said shutting down Tavares was something the team discussed before the game.

''He's obviously been on a pretty good streak lately, and he still looked dangerous tonight,'' Lupul said. ''Again we're going to have to shut him down (Tuesday).''

Jonas Gustavsson stopped 25 shots for his third shutout in eight games and got all the support he needed from Matthew Lombardi's early first-period goal.

''We did a good job in front of him and he's been there when we need him to make a big save every once in a while,'' coach Ron Wilson said.

Phil Kessel scored his team-leading 26th and Lombardi added his second goal of the game late in the third period to help Toronto win for the second time in six games overall. The Maple Leafs have lost a season-high four straight on the road since beating the Islanders 5-3 on Dec. 23.

Kessel's goal gave him three and three assists during a six-game point streak against New York (19-22-6).

Gustavsson has stopped 50 of 53 shots in three career appearances against the Islanders.

Toronto goaltenders have had plenty of help lately from the team's penalty-killing unit, which hasn't allowed a power-play goal in 10 consecutive games - the longest active streak in the league.

The Maple Leafs weren't called for a penalty Monday, which isn't surprising considering the Islanders were held to 11 shots through two periods in an uninspired effort that led to their league-high eighth shutout. They registered 14 shots in the final 20 minutes.

''We just didn't establish our game and really do the things we wanted to execute against them,'' Tavares said. ''It was real tough for us to get back in the game and try and gain some momentum. Obviously, we didn't do enough to even draw a penalty.''

Tavares has eight goals and six assists during an eight-game point streak at home, where New York has won five of seven. Linemates Kyle Okposo and Matt Moulson have combined for seven goals and 11 assists in those seven contests.

After starting for the 15th time in 16 games, Evgeni Nabokov could get a day off. If that's the case, Al Montoya would make his first appearance since suffering a concussion at Winnipeg on Dec. 20.

The Maple Leafs are 4-0-2 in the last six meetings overall with the Islanders and 2-0-1 in their last three visits to Long Island.

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