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John Tavares doesn't think much of scoring in losing cause

John Tavares of the New York Islanders looks

John Tavares of the New York Islanders looks on before a face off late in a game against the Vancouver Canucks at Nassau Coliseum on Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015 in Uniondale. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Two things are very predictable about John Tavares: 1) He is going to score a goal before too long and 2) If it comes in a losing cause, he is not going to give a hoot about it.

Just like clockwork, he put one in the net at 9:35 of the third period Saturday night against the Hurricanes. It briefly breathed life into one of the Islanders' most dreary games of the season, cutting a 5-2 deficit to 5-3 and raising hopes at Nassau Coliseum. And it wasn't just any goal, either. It was his 30th of the season, bringing him to a landmark that he had reached only once before.

Then, sure enough, after the Islanders failed to cut into the lead any further, he all but said, "Big deal."

"I don't know. I don't think much about it right now," he said. "It's just disappointing the way tonight went. Maybe ask me that at the end of the season."

Other than the goal, his signature move of the night occurred when, at the end of an ineffective shift, he whacked the boards with his stick.

Tavares takes his roles as captain and superstar very seriously and is disappointed in himself when things don't go well for his team -- even when his team enters a game in first place.

He has expressed frustration lately after having been slashed, hacked or held. The rough treatment he gets from opponents is testimony to his place in the Islanders' world and the hockey universe. His production in the face of those tactics is testimony to his skill and perseverance.

Thirty goals is a significant plateau in this low-scoring era. Tavares scored 31 in 2011-12, then had 28 in the 48-game schedule the next season and 24 in 59 games before getting injured at the Olympics last year. The 24-year-old is well on his way to raising his own bar this season.

Which was the last thing on his mind Saturday night. "Certainly it wasn't a very good game. Obviously, we played slow, we looked flat and our execution was very poor," he said. "Give them credit. They looked like the more desperate team.

"As professionals, you've got to be ready to play and find a way to get the job done. We weren't even close tonight."

Aside from being dejected, he sounded determined to not let his team have any more games like that. His goal is to keep the season going as long as he can, into the spring. Then maybe he'll be able to appreciate No. 30.

New York Sports