NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The power play clicked. The kids buzzed. Ex-Oiler Jordan Eberle scored his first two for his new team. John Tavares had a natural hat trick.
The Islanders had a fun Saturday night in this fun town, a 6-2 win over a fairly lifeless Predators team that played in Chicago a night earlier.
But that’s no concern of the Isles, who got three power-play goals Saturday after scoring just two in the first 10 games of the season.
“We had some good long talks the last couple days about the power play, we re-evaluated ourselves and our effort and we just got back to basics,” Anders Lee said. “We shot pucks and we got rewarded.”
Eberle was the first, snapping one past beleaguered Predators goaltender Juuse Saros 4:21 in on the power play. His first goal as an Islander seemed to loosen not only Eberle up but the power play.
Ryan Pulock blasted one home on the advantage in the second and Eberle scored a killer with 29.2 seconds left in the second off a nice feed from Mathew Barzal to give the Isles a two-goal lead heading to the third.
“He’s earned it,” Weight said of Eberle. “He really played well early in the year and then, it’s a little like the power play — he stopped moving his feet a bit, started hoping something might go in. But he was really good tonight.”
Tavares took charge in the third, tipping home Lee’s shot 12 seconds in, having one go off his foot and off two Predators, then home at 2:52 and capping his second hat trick in three games with a power-play ripper at 7:26 for a 6-1 lead. Tavares now has nine goals and four assists on the season and he’s amassed all 13 of those points in just four of the Isles’ 11 games.
“He’s got the hot stick,” Eberle said of Tavares. “He tips one in, one goes off his foot and then a perfect shot. You want to keep him going when he’s like this.”
The kids were superb, as well. Pulock’s two power-play points were supplemented by a strong night on defense. Anthony Beauvillier, a new addition to the second power-play unit, had two assists. And Barzal continued his confident growth with another game of mesmerizing drives through the offensive zone and that one great setup for Eberle late in the second.
“As a young player, you have to learn as you go,” Lee said. “He’s just building off each game and it’s only going to benefit him and us.”
The power play was clearly an important topic after it hit its lowest point Thursday in Saint Paul, when the Isles went 0-for-5 and allowed two shorthanded goals to drop to 2-for-33 on the season with five shorties allowed.
Weight changed his power-play units and it was the second group, with Pulock, Eberle and Beauvillier, who took charge Saturday. After Pulock’s goal in the second to restore the Isles’ lead, the Predators took a bench minor, with coach Peter Laviolette going too far in arguing the previous call on Island Park’s Anthony Bitetto.
Pulock’s unit started that power play and both units had good looks on that lone advantage they did not convert.
“I think we were just a little more confident there today,” Tavares said after scoring his first power-play goal and point of the season. Of his 244 career goals, 72 are on the power play.
Sign up for Newsday’s Islanders texts with a 14-day free trial at newsday.com/islestext.