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Tavares’ OT goal caps Islanders comeback over Maple Leafs

TORONTO (AP) — John Tavares scored 4:38 into overtime, capping the New York Islanders’ two-goal comeback in a 4-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday night.

Tavares, an Ontario native, went around several defenders to score the winning goal during a delayed Toronto penalty. With his 33rd goal and 39th assist, the Islanders captain stretched his lead in the NHL scoring race to three points.

Tavares has four overtime goals this season.

Tyler Kennedy — in his Islanders debut — Frans Nielson and Casey Cizikas all scored in the third period for New York (43-21-4), which has a three-point lead over the New York Rangers atop the Metropolitan Division.

Michal Neuvirth made 22 saves for the Islanders, who will host the Rangers on Tuesday night.

David Booth, Peter Holland and James van Riemsdyk scored for the Maple Leafs (26-35-6). Jonathan Bernier made 39 saves.

New York trailed 2-0 and 3-1 in the third period.

“It’s a much better feeling than it could have been,” Tavares said. “We were disappointed with our first two periods.”

Two days after Maple Leafs interim coach Peter Horachek criticized his team for a lack of effort in a blowout loss, Toronto showed plenty but couldn’t complete the victory.

With Nazem Kadri scratched as punishment for missing a team meeting, Horachek changed up the lines and broke up the trio of van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak and Phil Kessel. It paid off for much of the night.

Booth opened the scoring 18:23 into the first period by deking and lifting a backhander past Neuvirth. The goal was Booth’s third in three games after he scored only one in his first 41 this season.

Less than a minute after Bernier made a big stop on Tavares, Holland followed up on a loose puck at the side of the net to give the Maple Leafs a 2-0 lead at 10:27 of the third.

Kennedy cut the deficit in half 1:32 into the third period off a pass from Tavares. After van Riemsdyk restored Toronto’s two-goal lead with a goal off the rush at 6:06, the Islanders continued their comeback.

With Booth in the penalty box, Nielsen scored at 9:58. Just 30 seconds later, Cizikas tipped a shot by Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic past Bernier to tie it.

As the Islanders buzzed around him, Bernier made two saves in the final seconds of regulation to get the game to overtime.

NOTES: With D Roman Polak slated for season-ending hernia surgery, the Maple Leafs called up Petter Granberg and plugged him into the lineup. … Islanders D Nick Leddy left the game with an injury after colliding with Morgan Rielly in the second period and didn’t return. … Islanders first-round pick Michael Dal Colle was in attendance. Dal Colle has 38 goals and 49 assists in 51 games this season for the OHL East Division-champion Oshawa Generals.

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