SAN JOSE, Calif. - The Islanders needed goals. How about two in the first 3:30?
That helped get the Isles going Tuesday night. Johnny Boychuk's 70-footer 45 seconds into the third helped more. And the team fought off a furious Sharks charge late to take a 4-2 win, the first time in seven games the Islanders scored more than two.
"We had a sense in here before the game that we were ready for it," said John Tavares, who was alone to snap home a rebound past Martin Jones 36 seconds in to the game. He also capped the win with an empty-netter with 3.6 seconds left. "Those goals gave us some jump and a lot of confidence."
Tavares' quick score, his first point in five games, took the air out of SAP Center. Mikhail Grabovski's wrist shot through Jones at 3:30 further deflated the home crowd and made Sharks coach Peter DeBoer pull Jones after just three shots.
The Islanders had the ice tilted a bit in the second period and Joel Ward's slam-dunk goal through Thomas Greiss' legs cut the lead at 10:14. But Greiss was his sharpest in the middle period, making 13 of his 34 saves as the Isles took a 2-1 lead into the third.
Having gone six straight games without getting that third goal, the Islanders needed another strong start coming out for the final period. They got it, in the form of another gift from Sharks backup goaltender Alex Stalock.
Boychuk slapped one on net from just outside the blue line and it fooled Stalock, ending up in the far corner of the net. San Jose challenged the goal to see if Nikolay Kulemin was offside, but replays upheld the goal and the Islanders had that coveted third goal.
"We had a lot of chances the last game [a 2-1 loss to the Bruins on Sunday] but no goals," Grabovski said. "There was some bad luck. Tonight, we work hard and we get some good luck. Just grinding, keep it simple and it's fun to play that way."
The Kulemin-Grabovski-Steve Bernier line had a couple of monster shifts in the third as the Islanders dominated play for a dozen minutes, just unable to produce a fourth goal.
That almost came back to haunt them. Brent Burns scored from a bad angle with 5:11 to go, bringing the Sharks back within a goal. Greiss had to come up with two big saves inside of a minute to play, the last on a diving Joe Pavelski in the crease.
But Tavares' empty-netter salted away a much-needed win.
"We deserved it," Jack Capuano said. "The guys worked extremely hard against a good team. We haven't had much puck luck in the last little while, but we earned this one."
Notes & quotes: D Adam Pelech, recalled from Bridgeport on Monday, did not make his NHL debut . . . The Isles were incensed about a missed penalty call in the second, when Burns broke his stick on a shot and played the puck with the broken shaft, a clear infraction. "Could've cost us the game," one player said.
Former Isles enforcer Micheal Haley was in the Sharks lineup. Haley, 29, played 43 games over three seasons with the Isles. "I grew up there," he said. "Looking at the board, I don't see too many guys I played with, but it's still special."
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