John Tavares, linemates lead Isles over Wings

Kyle Okposo #21 of the New York Islanders

Kyle Okposo #21 of the New York Islanders celebrates his second period goal against the Detroit Red Wings with teammate John Tavares #91. (Jan. 10, 2012) (Credit: Jim McIsaac)

The Islanders' strange domination of the Red Wings since the lockout continued Tuesday night, as did the wondrous play of John Tavares and his linemates.

Tavares, Kyle Okposo and Matt Moulson combined for four goals and the Isles ran Detroit out of Nassau Coliseum, a 5-1 win that was the Isles' third straight at home and improved their record to 5-0-1 against Detroit since the 2004-05 lockout.

"You know before the game, you're facing the Detroit Red Wings, so you have to be ready or it's going to be a long night," said Mark Streit, who had three assists. "We were ready right off the hop."

After a blown lead in Anaheim and a no-show in Phoenix killed the momentum of a three-game winning streak, the Isles returned home to start a four-game homestand and threw pucks from everywhere on Wings goaltender Ty Conklin -- the Isles had 12 shots on goal before 10 minutes had elapsed.

But they were scoreless and needed a highlight-reel save by Evgeni Nabokov to keep it that way -- he dived across the crease and got his stick on Henrik Zetterberg's shot late in the first period, setting the stage for the Isles to grab the lead.

Moulson's crossing feed for Tavares clicked off Drew Miller's skate and in with 53 seconds left in the first, giving the Isles an edge. Nabokov, making his ninth consecutive start, was superb in making 23 saves and lucky, with two posts hit and two open nets missed by Wings players.

After Detroit put some pressure on to start the second period, the Isles, led by who else but No. 91 and his mates, blew open the game.

Tavares missed three minutes after taking an errant shot by Niklas Kronwall to the cheek, but returned and nearly scored on his first shift back in the second. On his second shift, he was the trailer on a four-on-two rush and Okposo's neat drop pass allowed Tavares to walk in and snap a high shot past Conklin at 7:31.

Tavares returned the favor on a two-on-one at 11:10, with Okposo scoring his third in four games.

"We're doing a good job winning those battles and being strong on the puck," said Tavares, whose goal and two assists gave him 12 points (3-9) in his last six games. "We definitely have enough skill on our line to make plays."

Michael Grabner scored his first goal in nine games on a breakaway at 18:32 of the second, and Moulson capped the night with his 20th goal, a deflection of Streit's shot with 6:03 left to play in the game.

The Islanders pulled themselves out of last in the East once again, and within a point of 13th. But for all their control of this once-a-season meet-up with the powerful Wings -- the Islanders could be headed for a fifth straight top-five draft pick; the Wings haven't had a top-10 pick in 20 years -- this one will only be a small high note in an otherwise dismal season if the Islanders can't play the same way Thursday, when the Flyers come calling.

"I don't know what it is," Okposo said about the dominance over the Wings. "I only know we need to carry this over to the next few games and play the same way no matter who's on the other side."

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