CALGARY, Alberta (AP) — John Tavares scored twice to lead the New York Islanders to their third straight victory, 2-1 victory over the Calgary Flames on Friday night.
After Tavares opened the scoring eight minutes into the game, the score remained 1-0 until 12:16 of the third period when Tavares got the puck in the slot, fended off Deryk Engelland and fired his team-leading 17th goal through the pads of Jonas Hiller.
The Flames got a goal from Johnny Gaudreau with 3:25 left in the third period to get back within one, but could not tie it against Jaroslav Halak, who had 22 saves to win his seventh straight game and improve to 21-6-0.
New York (26-11-1) improved to 7-1-1 in its last nine games and kept pace with Pittsburgh atop the Metropolitan Division.
Calgary had its four-game winning streak snapped, and the Flames are 3-1-0 with two games left on a six-game homestand.
The first game of 2015 for both teams looked more like the first game of the preseason for much of the night. It was devoid of any flow with both teams guilty of errant passes, numerous stoppages for icings and offsides and general sloppy play, especially in the first two periods.
Looking to tie the game, the Flames got back-to-back power plays early in the third period but were unable to take advantage against a New York penalty-killing unit ranked 29th in the NHL.
Calgary failed to generate a shot on the first chance and the best scoring chance of the second power play, Curtis Glencross’ setup of Sean Monahan, was stopped on a superb pad save by Halak.
New York took a 1-0 lead eight minutes in, capitalizing on a two-minute two-man advantage. With Lance Bouma already in the penalty box for tripping, Matt Stajan was sent off on the ensuing faceoff for covering his hand on the puck.
Calgary killed off the first 45 seconds of the 5-on-3 without any troubles but once the Islanders got set up, they moved the puck around nicely and eventually, Ryan Strome fed a perfect pass through the top of the crease to Tavares, who one-timed a shot in the open side before Jonas Hiller could slide across.
On the verge of being shut out for the first time this season, the Flames finally showed some life when Gaudreau pounced on a loose puck in the slot and rifled in his 13th of the season.
But that was as close as they would get.
NOTES: In two career games at the Saddledome, Tavares has four goals. He also scored twice in his only previous appearance four years ago. … The Flames shuffled their lines a little bit moving RW Joe Colborne onto a line with Monahan and Glencross and dropping David Jones to the fourth line alongside Stajan and Brandon Bollig. … LW Mason Raymond was a healthy scratch for Calgary for the second game in a row. … The Islanders’ record when scoring first improved to 14-8-1. However, they still have a better record when surrendering the first goal (12-3-0).
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