John Tavares and Sidney Crosby share the same agent, CAA's Pat Brisson, and share status as two of the NHL's biggest stars. Tavares has had his share of frustrations about the officiating this season, just as Crosby did when he was first becoming a star with the Penguins.
Tavares has noted how Crosby took all the uncalled punishment in stride before the Penguins won the Stanley Cup in 2009 -- and how officials now give Crosby the benefit of the doubt on calls such as the two he drew in Game 3, including the holding call on Brian Strait in overtime that led to Chris Kunitz's game-winner on the power play.
"I don't think he worries about that," Tavares said of Crosby. "He doesn't make the calls, he just plays the game."
Tavares has learned to harness his own frustrations with failing to get calls throughout the MVP-caliber season he's had, going from a few strong on-ice displays of emotion early this season to shrugging it off as the games became more important.
So Tavares isn't saying a word about not getting any calls thus far in his first playoff series.
"[Crosby] is a great player, he's going to make it tough on us and we want to play him tough," Tavares said. "We just want consistency both ways."
The most inconsistent thing for the Islanders has been their special teams. Their power play is 1-for-11 and the Penguins are 6-for-13 with their power play, and Crosby has a goal and two assists with the man advantage.
Tavares led the Islanders with nine power-play goals in the regular season, but the Isles' top power-play unit has looked too deliberate at times in contrast with Crosby and the Pens' talent-laden top five, with Evgeni Malkin at the point and Crosby on either side of the net to distribute or mop up loose pucks.
Jack Capuano took a bit of issue with the calls on Strait, one a very minor hook on Crosby in the third and the call in OT. A few Islanders privately took note of how easily Crosby, one of the best skaters in the league, went down under Strait's lean to draw the overtime call.
But that is all in the past heading into Game 4. Tavares isn't looking to win a penalties-drawn matchup with Crosby, just the final score.
"He puts his focus on winning the game," Tavares said. "He's a very competitive guy and he pushes himself every single time he steps out there."