John Tavares scores against his former side, as Toronto Maple Leafs beat Islanders 2-1
John Tavares enjoyed playing against his former side once again, as his goal in the third period was enough to ensure the Toronto Maple Leafs their playoff spot. The goal was also the deciding moment in their 2-1 win.
The former Islander was reluctant to over-sell the goal and just claimed it was an essential goal for the team. Speaking to reporters at the end, he said: “It’s just nice to help contribute to a win that got us officially in the playoffs. That’s what matters most.”
Calle Rosen was the other goalscorer on the night for the Maple Leafs. Toronto went into the fixture knowing that they need just the one point to secure their place in the post-season competition. Frederik Anderson stopped 28 shots as the Leafs won for the fourth time in eleven games.
Tavares continued: “It’s great to punch your ticket,” Tavares said. “You work hard all year to give yourself a chance to be a part of it. Every opportunity, you want to take advantage of it. We put a lot of work into it, and we’ve got a lot of work ahead.”
The Maple Leafs still have an outside chance of catching Boston to ensure home-ice advantage for the playoff series, but it looks unlikely. Their third-place finish in the Atlantic Division means they will face the Bruins regardless of what happens between now and the end of the regular season.
Tavares may have hidden his joy after victory against his former side, but the previous games have seen him lose by a combined total of 10-1. The hometown player burst through after a pass from Mitch Marner to score his 46th goal; and career-high 87th point.
Meanwhile, Robin Lehner finished with 36 stops for the Islander; who are also bound for the playoffs. Jordan Eberle scored their only goal of the game, in their final home game of the regular season.
New York’s coach was impressed by Toronto. He said: Give them a lot of credit. They had a lot of desperation in their game.”
The Islanders missed out on the chance to pull within a point of the first-place Washington Capitals. They now remain three points behind Washington, with two games remaining. However, the Penguins could still catch them as they have three games remaining, while the Islanders end the regular season in Washington.
Eberle ruined Anderson’s hopes of a shutout, with just over five minutes remaining. But, Tavares was still full of compliments for the Dane. He said: “He’s been our backbone all year. It’s great to see him have that kind of night. (He) looked so poised and calm.”
While Tavares himself received a less hostile welcome than last time, he was still greeted with boos and chants of ‘we don’t need you’ as he took part in the pre-match warm-ups. However, Mike Babcock seemed to suggest that the crowd didn’t affect his performance. He said: “It’s nice for John Tavares, for us to come back here tonight and for him to get the game-winner.
“The whole game we were prepared and competed hard right from the get-go.”
The Maple Leafs host the Carolina Panthers on Tuesday night.