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Tavares steps it up with two goals, three assists in victory in Vancouver

New York Islanders' John Tavares, center, celebrates his

New York Islanders' John Tavares, center, celebrates his goal against the Vancouver Canucks with Josh Bailey, left, and Blake Comeau during the first period. (March 16, 2010) Credit: AP

VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Taped up to the dry-erase board in the Islanders' dressing room before Tuesday night's 5-2 win over the Canucks was a newspaper article the team did not find amusing.

Among the highlighted portions?

Leading goal-scorer Matt Moulson's name was misspelled twice, the Canucks were given the advantage in every category of the matchup grid, and the Islanders were described as a team composed of AHL and ECHL players.

Hopefully, The Vancouver Province took note of the proper spelling for Wednesday's edition, since Moulson (yes, with a capital "M," not "C") scored his 26th of the season in the second period.

But the paper should really become familiar with the name John Tavares, considering he delivered his first true breakout performance of the season.

Tavares finished the night with five points - two goals and three assists - and displayed a well-rounded game by blocking shots, winning battles and drawing penalties, as well.

"I sure hoped it was coming," Tavares said of last night's success. "It's nice to contribute in all areas of the game."

Say what you will about Tavares, Moulson and the rest of the Islanders, but they still show up every night.

They have not abandoned their season, and they have not relinquished the pride they take in outworking opponents, as they did - soundly - against the Canucks on Tuesday night.

"Being around this team for the year and a half, I was never concerned about any of that," coach Scott Gordon said. "First and foremost, there is a lot of character on this team and their makeup isn't to pack it in."

That seemed to be something that unflattering newspaper story didn't quite capture.

"It obviously sent a message," Tavares said of the article. "Since the beginning of the season, people haven't expected too much from us."

In their third consecutive win, the Islanders have pulled within seven points of the eighth-place Boston Bruins and earned seven out of eight points the last four games.

"It's about being professional and realizing it's not over yet," said Dwayne Roloson, who had a terrific 35-save outing. "We're still in a position to make the playoffs and we believe we can."

Tavares began his five-point night by assisting on defenseman Dylan Reese's first NHL goal at 6:22 in the first and grabbed his first goal after the Canucks took their third penalty of the season, tallying on the power play at 11:45 in the first.

Tavares then executed an expert no-look pass to Moulson, who gave the Islanders a 3-0 lead at 15:30 of the second period.

Although the Islanders were outshot a frightening 19-4 in the second, Roberto Luongo gave up two goals on only four shots in the second period before being replaced by Andrew Raycroft in the third.

The Canucks answered with a pair of goals later in the second - by Kyle Wellwood and Alexandre Burrows - but Tavares wasn't finished.

He collected his fourth point of the game after blowing past Andrew Alberts and assisting on Freddy Meyer's goal with 7.6 seconds to play in the second and scored an empty-netter with less than three minutes to play in the third, reaching the 20-goal plateau in his rookie season.

That's John Tavares, with a capital "T."

Notes & quotes: Kyle Okposo missed the game with an undisclosed injury and remains day to day. Trent Hunter (upper body injury) played for the first time since March 2 against Chicago. Jeff Tambellini, who hails from Vancouver, returned to the Islanders' lineup after suffering a groin strain during Saturday's 4-2 win over the Devils.

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