In the midst of a busy NHL season, it's not often that Jeff Tambellini gets to see his father, Steve, the general manager of the Edmonton Oilers.
So last night when the schedules aligned and Steve got the opportunity to watch his son play in person, Tambellini made sure it was well worth the trip for his father.
Tambellini scored his first NHL hat trick and Martin Biron made 38 saves and earned his first shutout of the season as the Islanders won their third straight with a 5-0 victory over the Buffalo Sabres at Nassau Coliseum.
"That's the best game I've ever played," Tambellini said, "so to have him in the building was pretty special."
In back-to-back games, the Islanders have now dismantled two of the hottest teams in the league with last night's drubbing against the Sabres and a 4-3 overtime victory on the road Friday against Washington.
Biron's stellar effort against his former team improved the Islanders' record to 4-4-5.
"It felt great," said Biron, who won the 200th game of his career. "We've won three big games against three eams on top of the conference right now. To respond the way we have demonstrates that guys want it."
Despite a stale start to the first in which they spent far too much time in their own end and were outshot by the Sabres 8-0 in the first 11:59 of the period, the Islanders escaped the period with a 1-0 lead as a result of some good forechecking and a strong 14-save performance from Biron.
"You can't forget about his contributions," coach Scott Gordon said. "There were some areas we were a little off in, and [Biron] played well."
Pressuring Buffalo in its own zone, Richard Park stripped the puck from Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers and fired a sharp wrist shot from the left circle for his first goal of the season at 17:13 to give the Isles a 1-0 lead.
The Islanders picked up the pace in the second period, scoring three goals, including a pair from Tambellini, who now has six goals in the past five games and had his second multi-goal game in the past week.
His first goal came after he jammed in a rebound off Sean Bergenheim's backhanded no-look shot at 9:16. His second goal, assisted by Doug Weight, came on a one-timer from the left circle at 12:20. Sabres coach Lindy Ruff yanked Ryan Miller (13 saves, 3 goals allowed) and replaced him with backup Patrick Lalime.
Josh Bailey extended the Islanders' lead to 4-0 three minutes later in the second period with a laser from above the right circle that beat Lalime at 15:20.
Tambellini completed his hat trick in the third period when he tapped in Kyle Okposo's sputtering shot in the crease at 15:42 for the team's fifth goal, a season high.
"This puts us right back in the map and in the thick of things in the East," Tambellini said.