John Tavares helped lead the Islanders to the postseason for the first time in his four NHL seasons, but his first Hart Trophy as the league's most valuable player will have to wait for at least one more year.
Tavares lost out to Washington's Alex Ovechkin in balloting announced Saturday night prior to Game 2 of the Stanley Cup final between the Bruins and Hawks. Ovechkin edged fellow finalist Sidney Crosby of Pittsburgh by just 32 points (1,090-1,058) in the closest Hart vote since Montreal's Jose Theodore and Calgary's Jarome Iginla finished in a virtual tie in 2002.
The Islanders' star had 28 goals and 19 assists in the lockout-shortened, 48-game season. That earned Tavares enough votes from the Professional Hockey Writers Association to be named one of three finalists for the Hart, which was last won by an Islander in 1979, when Bryan Trottier took home the award.
Tavares, whose Isles bowed out to Crosby's Penguins in six games, will have other opportunities to earn NHL hardware. He will also likely have a new designation to start next season: captain. With the Isles having parted ways with Mark Streit earlier this week, Tavares is the heavy favorite to be named the next Islanders captain during training camp in September.
Tavares is also a lock to be invited to play in the 2014 Olympics for Team Canada should the NHL and the IOC work out an arrangement for NHL players to participate.
Tavares' longtime linemate, Matt Moulson lost to Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louisfor the Lady Byng Trophy for the second straight year.
The last Islander to win any league award was Doug Weight, who won the King Clancy Trophy in 2011, and before that Michael Peca, who won the Selke Trophy in 2002.
Other NHL awards
Crosby did, however, win the Ted Lindsay Award from his fellow NHL Players' Association members as the league's best player.
"I don't think you play throughout the season with awards in mind, to be honest," Crosby said. "To be recognized by the players for this one means a lot. The Hart, I was in the mix and to be that close, you'd love to win. ... (But) I'm not going to be too upset that I didn't win."
In other awards announced before Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals, Montreal's P.K. Subban won his first Norris Trophy, given to the NHL's top defenseman. Subban topped the league's defensemen with 11 goals and 27 assists, and was largely responsible for Montreal's resurgence.
"I think that every year you grow as a player, both on and off the ice. I think as an organization, a group and a team we improved this year," Subban said. "When you improve, everybody benefits. I just think I benefitted from our improvement this year.
"Being a fan of the Montreal Canadiens since I was little kid and growing up a Habs fan, I appreciate being a leader for this organization."
Sergei Bobrovsky of the Columbus Blue Jackets won the Vezina Trophy, given to the NHL's top goaltender.
Bobrovsky, who beat out Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers and Antti Niemi of the San Jose Sharks for his first Vezina, was the main reason Columbus was in the running for a playoff berth until the very end of the season. The Blue Jackets and Minnesota both finished with 55 points, but the Wild got the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference because of fewer non-shootout wins.
Bobrovsky finished 21-11-6, with a 2.00 GAA, .932 save percentage and four shutouts.
"This is not my final stage," the Russian said through a translator. "I can be better and I will get better.
Florida's Jonathan Huberdeau won the Calder Trophy, given to the NHL's top rookie.
"There were a lot of good rookies this year," Huberdeau said. "I wasn't expecting anything and I'd glad I won it."
With the Associated Press