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John Tavares scored first NHL hat trick but Isles fall 4-3 to Panthers

Not even John Tavares' first NHL hat trick could lift the Islanders to victory last night, as the team dropped a 4-3 decision to the Panthers at BankAtlantic Center.

Three times the Islanders fell behind by a goal and three times Tavares pulled them even.

Trailing 4-3 late in the third period the Islanders had another chance to tie the game, but with less than a minute left P.A. Parenteau was whistled for interference, a call deemed questionable by a few Islanders.

Down a man to finish the game, the Islanders found no answer to Radek Dvorak's third-period go-ahead goal that ultimately spelled the Islanders first regulation loss since October 13 against the Washington Capitals.

"Deep down we believe we are capable of doing great things. We're not happy with being mediocre," said starting goaltender Rick DiPietro, who made 26 saves last night. "This locker room, we're disgusted with ourselves. We played alright, but we didn't play the way we wanted to play."

Dvorak buried a rebound to break a third-period tie at 13:28 and hand the Islanders their first loss in four games.

After stopping defenseman Bryan McCabe’s shot, Rick DiPietro dove back toward the left post, but not before Dvorak slipped the puck underneath DiPietro’s outstretched right glove.

"It was just another one of those bounces," DiPietro said. "The guys worked hard tonight and unfortunately we didn't get a point."


After the loss, Tavares found it difficult to relish his milestone achievement.

"Not right now," Tavares said when asked if the hat trick still felt special "It doesn't mean much when you don't get the two points."

Tavares’ first goal of the night evened the score after defenseman Mike Weaver’s slapshot beat a screened Rick DiPietro for a 1-0 Panthers lead at 4:58.

Tavares’s goal at 9:25 was the first power-play goal the Panthers’ penalty kill surrendered this season; the team posted a perfect 10-for-10 penalty-killing record heading into last night’s game.

Both James Wisniewski and Parenteau picked up assists on the play, leading all three players to extend their point streaks to four games.

Less than two minutes later, however, Steve Bernier had a wide-open net to easily convert a nice cross-ice feed from defenseman Dennis Wideman and give the Panthers a 2-1 lead at 11:15.


That trio of Tavares, Wisniewski and Parenteau combined again for the team’s second power-play goal as Tavares deflected Wisniewski’s shot to tie the game at 2 at 8:01 in the second.

After David Booth crashed the net to reach a puck dangling in the crease for a 3-2 Panthers lead at 14:57, Tavares notched the all-important equalizer with a little more than one minute left in the second period.

Tavares recovered Blake Comeau’s rebound and slipped the puck past a sprawling Tomas Vokoun at 18:57 before dropping to his knees in celebration of the momentous feat.

"We were talking about it in the locker room before the game," DiPietro said. "It's time for him to step up and take over games. He's capable of doing it and tonight he went out and did it."

Tavares now has five goals in the past four games after missing three games with a mild concussion suffered during the first period of the team’s opening night contest against the Dallas Stars.

But even last night's tremendous accomplishment couldn't erase the sting of defeat .

"It's a tough way to lose, a couple tough breaks, a couple tough calls, but that's the way the game goes," Tavares said. "We'll just be happy with the effort the last two periods and get ready for next week."


 

Tags: John Tavares

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