Toronto, ON – John Tavares scored two goals and had an assist, and the New York Islanders accounted for three first-period tallies en route to a 5-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs Thursday at Air Canada Centre.
Brad Boyes scored a goal and added two assists, Matt Moulson chipped in a goal and an assist and Frans Nielsen tallied once for the Islanders, who are 7-0-2 in their last nine games, the team's longest point streak since going 9-0-1 with a tie to open the 2001-02 season.
Evgeni Nabokov stopped 18-of-21 shots faced in the victory.
"When your forwards are making good decisions and winning all the battles, it makes it a lot easier for us," New York defenseman Andrew MacDonald said.
Joffrey Lupul scored a goal and Phil Kessel had three assists for the Maple Leafs, losers of two straight. James Reimer allowed all five goals on 38 shots.
"We've been a good team all year, we're just steering away from some things in our system and (individually) we're not out-competing or outplaying the guy across from us," Lupul said. "We already talked, there's going to be a lot of video (Friday) and we'll get back to basics and we'll fix it."
Toronto, which hasn't made the playoffs since 2004, was looking to clinch a postseason spot. The Leafs needed a win and a Winnipeg loss in regulation versus Carolina.
The Maple Leafs currently stand fifth in the Eastern Conference, but are just one point ahead of Ottawa after the Senators defeated Washington on Thursday.
New York sits in the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference, three points ahead of the New York Rangers and one point back of the Ottawa Senators.
During a busy first period, the Leafs struck early with two quick goals. Lupul skated the length of the ice and attacked the net from the left wing, then slid the puck past Nabokov as he crashed into the left post to make it 1-0 at the 5:05 mark. It was Lupul's ninth goal of the year.
Following a New York penalty, Toronto tallied another goal just over 1 1/2 minutes later. Tyler Bozak got the puck near the net and had a nifty behind- the-back pass to Cody Franson, who snapped it in to make it 2-0 at the 6:41 mark.
Boyes put the Isles on the board with a one-timer from the point at 9:07 in the first. Moulson knotted up the contest at 2-2 later in the period, scoring a power-play goal at 15:03. He deflected a Boyes' shot from the point past the glove of Reimer.
The first-period scoring barrage concluded with Tavares on a 2-on-1 opportunity. The Ontario native kept the puck during the odd-man rush and threw in a wrister to make it 3-2 at the 17:24 mark.
Tavares tallied his second goal of the game late in the second period. Boyes skated in on net and faked a shot before passing to Tavares, who then poked a wrister past the glove side of Reimer to make it 4-2 at the 14:40 mark.
New York made it a 5-2 contest around the midway point of the third. Nielsen received a pass from Kyle Okposo on a 3-on-2 and sent a slap shot into the upper right corner of the net at the 10:22 mark.
Toronto tallied the final goal with less than one minute left, with Dion Phaneuf scoring with the Leafs owning a two-man advantage.
"We have to stop the bleeding here and get back to what made us successful," Franson said. "But our lack of lack of success the last two games has nothing to do with thinking we've got a playoff spot."
It was the second straight game in which the Islanders scored three goals in the first period ... New York is 7-1-1 in its last nine road games and 13-5-2 overall as the visitor this season ... The Islanders are eight games over .500 on the road for the first time since 1981-82.