New York Islanders captain John Tavares entered Tuesday night's tilt with the Arizona Coyotes with three goals on the season.
He came out of it with six as he recorded his seventh-career hat trick, his first since Jan. 13, as he lifted the Islanders (5-3-1) to a 5-3 win at the Barclays Center.
"It was nice to get them," Tavares said. "Obviously when they come in a win, it's that much better."
It's New York's third-straight win while extending an impressive streak against the Coyotes. They haven't lost a game at home in regulation to the Arizona since 2002, a 3-2 loss at the Nassau Coliseum.
Tavares' third of the night came with 7:41 left to play to break a 3-3 deadlock to save the Islanders from an embarrassing loss against a Coyotes team that has not won a game in its first nine games (0-8-1).
It didn't start well for them after an Anders Lee tripping penalty put Arizona on the power play. A shot from Clayton Keller at the point was saved with the right leg of Halak, but the rebound came right to Anthony Duclair, who slotted it home.
New York continued to get in trouble with the refs. Penalties from Adam Pelech and Scott Mayfield gave the Coyotes 36 seconds of 5-on-3 power play time, but the Islanders managed to survive thanks to the heroic efforts of Casey Cizikas.
The forward lost his stick and later his gove during the kill, playing over a minute with an unprotected hand behind his back.
"I don't know," Cizikas would later admit as to how he was able to pull off such an effective penalty kill. "Just tried to get in the shooting lanes, try to do as much as possible to take away lanes with my skates and stuff like that."
They couldn't do much with that momentum as the Coyotes continued to dominate the first period, outshooting the Islanders 14-6.
When asked if he could disclose what he said to his team during intermission, Islanders head coach Doug Weight simply said "no," ensuring that his postgame press conference maintained it's "G" rating.
"We were just a little sluggish," Tavares admitted.
The Islanders found an equalizer 3:41 into the second when a Coyotes turnover in their zone came to Jordan Eberle, who rifled a quick pass toward the Arizona net where an on-rushing Tavares redirected the puck over the shoulder of Louis Domingue and into the back of the net.
After going pointless in four games, Tavares now has goals in his last two outings. It was also the 239th of his career, which moved him past Bob Bourne for seventh place on the Islanders' all-time scoring list.
Tavares got his second of the period with 5:35 remaining when he redirected a pass from Pelech with his foot. The Islanders had numbers going the other way on an odd-man rush, led by Eberle. After he was knocked off the puck, it slid to Pelech, whose initial shot was blocked by a pair of defensemen before the passing lane to Tavares opened.
Arizona would respond early in the third when Mario Kempe fired a wrister through Halak, one the Islanders goalie would undoubtedly like to have back.
But Halak was picked up by the Islanders power play, which had been barren before their early third-period chance having converted once in 26 man-advantage opportunities this season when Nelson slotted a low wrister past the right leg of Domingue with 15:39 left in the game.
The Coyotes wouldn't go away though. Four minutes after Nelson's tally, they tied things back up at three when Nick Cousins deflected a shot through heavy traffic past Halak, who couldn't see much of the proceedings in front of him.
They couldn't find a way to slow down Tavares though, who's third of the night and game winner was another re-direct off a slap pass from Pelech at the point in what was the defenseman's third assist of the night.
"It was nice to bounce backhand get rewarded off a nice play by Pelly." Tavares said. "I was telling Anders [Lee] that I don't think I tipped or deflected one in all last year and I got three today."
Just for good measure, Scott Mayfield added a fifth for the Islanders, slapping a shot from above the right circle that just beat Domingue.