The breaks haven't exactly been beating the Islanders of late, but they've certainly been frustrating. It boiled over at the end of Thursday's power play-free overtime loss to the Rangers and resulted in a two-game suspension for Islanders assistant coach Brent Thompson.
But as a tie game wound down in the third period Saturday at the Coliseum, the Isles got a break: a high-stick call on the Capitals' Mike Ribiero, who slammed the penalty-box door to draw an extra two minutes.
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With the second minor, John Tavares -- who drew the high-sticking call -- pounced on a loose puck and drilled it into the net with 7:47 to go.
After another break of sorts -- the Capitals' Jeff Schultz clipped Andrew MacDonald with a high stick on a faceoff in the Isles' zone -- Tavares scored a replay-aided power-play goal 30 seconds later.
A 2-2 game turned into a 5-2 Islanders win, enabling them to make their seven-game homestand a minor success at 3-2-2 (3-0-2 in the last five). It brought the Islanders to the .500 mark, temporarily just a point out of eighth place in the East.
"I feel like maybe we had that coming," said Josh Bailey, who opened the scoring at 10:46 of the first with his second of the season. "We felt like we were owed a break or two and the power play and Johnny went out and put them away."
Tavares perhaps had been feeling the most frustration, unable to draw penalties despite his consistent presence with the puck around the opposing net. Ribiero's stick clicked off his helmet, but it was caught by the officials.
The Islanders had some good looks on Capitals rookie goaltender Phillipp Grubauer during the opening two minutes of the power play. They didn't break through until Brad Boyes tried to kick a rebound to his stick at the side of the crease but instead kicked it across to Tavares, who beat a prone Grubauer to snap the tie.
"I just wanted to be sure, leave no doubt," Tavares said of his 15th goal. "I didn't want to take anything for granted."
There was some doubt on his 16th, though, leading to a strange sequence. He jumped on another loose puck early in the second four-minute power play, snap -ped it up and under the crossbar and raised his arms, but play continued for 2:47, when Matt Moulson scored off a pretty feed from Boyes.
A quick review showed that Tavares' shot hit the center bar inside the net and quickly bounced out. He was awarded the goal, No. 100 in his career, and the clock was wound back. Frans Nielsen scored a shorthanded goal with 3:01 left to clinch it.
Casey Cizikas marked another strong game with a second-period goal off a feed from Matt Martin to send the Islanders into the third with a 2-1 lead. As they did Thursday, the Islanders lost that lead, with Nick Backstrom snapping a shot past Evgeni Nabokov (22 saves) with 12:51 to go. But they recovered for a crucial regulation win against one of the many teams bunched with them outside the playoff picture.
The Islanders will visit the Penguins Sunday and will play 14 of their last 23 on the road, where they have compiled a very good 6-3-1 record.
"Everything's pretty tight right now, and before we know it, there'll be less than 20 games left and it will all speed up pretty quickly," Tavares said. "This was a good way to send off to the road and now we need to get back to that mentality we've had in winning games away from home."