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SportsColumnistsArthur Staple

Islanders’ John Tavares more focused on wins than milestones

New York Islanders center John Tavares looks on

New York Islanders center John Tavares looks on before a face off against the Washington Capitals in the first period of an NHL hockey game at Barclays Center on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016. Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

RALEIGH, N.C.

It’s turned out to be an eventful week for John Tavares.

On Tuesday, he was named to his fourth All-Star Game, third in a row. On Friday, he scored his first hat trick in three years to break through the 500-point plateau for his career, only the 10th player in Islanders history to do so. And Saturday night, he scored two more goals.

That’s barely enough to draw a smile from the Islanders’ captain, whom you’re inclined to believe when he says he wasn’t really aware of the approach of 500 points until earlier this week.

“Honestly, it’s nice to get it over with,” he said after the 5-2 win over the Panthers on Friday. “I’ll enjoy it at a later date.”

Truth is, Tavares isn’t the sort to enjoy the moment, especially when his team has had too many inconsistent moments as it hit the halfway mark here. All eyes now are on Tavares to see whether he’ll betray any signs of discontent with the organization, give any hint that he’s unhappy that Garth Snow has let a few of Tavares’ good friends go via trade or free agency the last four years.

There won’t be any. No one is saying Tavares is thrilled with the way the team has stumbled this season, but he’s focused on pushing the Islanders back up the hill. Snapping off two pinpoint goals Friday showed a bit of where his mind’s at, given that Tavares had been frustrated at missing too many corners this season.

“I’ve been lucky enough to be around a few elite guys, and Johnny’s work ethic is second to none,” Jack Capuano said. “Everyone knows he’s the engine behind this whole thing. What a lot of them don’t see is the effort, the will to win and get better every day in practice, the attention to detail he puts in. When your best player is also your hardest-working guy, you’ve got something.”

Even the All-Star Game, a pure flight of fancy now with the divisional three-on-three tournament in its second year, is no joke to Tavares. There are six games until the All-Star break. Judging by his output the past two games, Tavares may be on the cusp of one of his hot streaks.

ISLES POINTS LEADERS

1.Bryan Trottier 1,353

2.Mike Bossy 1,126

3.Denis Potvin 1,052

4.Clark Gillies 663

5.Brent Sutter 610

6.Pat LaFontaine 566

7.John Tonelli 544

8.Bob Bourne 542

9.Bob Nystrom 513

10.John Tavares 503

New York Sports