Tavares' 1,000th NHL point helps Leafs force overtime against Islanders

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Two points for John Tavares on Monday night.

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One for the Maple Leafs. 

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Of course, the Leafs captain wanted nothing more than to record his 1,000th NHL point in a Toronto victory. 

At UBS Arena against the New York Islanders, the team that picked Tavares first overall in 2009 and later named him their captain, Tavares had a goal and an assist to became the 98th player in NHL history to reach the 1,000-point milestone.

In 1,054 NHL games, Tavares has 435 goals and 565 assists. He’s the 10th active player to hit 1,000 points.

That Tavares joined the elite group in a 4-3 Leafs loss in overtime shouldn’t take the shine off the accomplishment.

“It has been a great ride so far, great journey, you want to celebrate in a win, but I’m very proud of it,” Tavares told reporters after the game. “In certain ways, you are happy it has happened and you can move forward and there will be a time and place to soak it in a little more.”

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Tavares’ 1,000th point came with some drama. 

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With Leafs goalie Ilya Samsonov on the bench in favour of an extra Leafs skater, Tavares won the draw against Jean-Gabriel Pageau deep in the offensive zone. The Leafs had a chance before William Nylander got a shot off from the point.

With his dad Joe watching from a suite with the rest of the Leafs dads on the annual fathers trip, Tavares got a piece of the Nylander shot as the final seconds of the third period ticked off.

Morgan Rielly barged in and beat Isles goalie Ilya Sorokin at 19:53 and the Leafs knew immediately the significance. They came off the bench as one to congratulate their captain, whose obvious joy as he was mobbed by teammates isn’t what we’re used to seeing from the stoic Tavares.

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Isles fans, who booed Tavares whenever he was on the ice, looked on in disbelief.

“It was a bit surreal,” Tavares said of the play. “Wasn’t pretty, so just wanted to make sure that it was correct and I had a good feeling, I had a net-front presence and it went off me. Helped lead to a big point for us. Happy it came in a really good moment for the team.

“You see all your teammates come out, it’s really special. The uniqueness of doing it where I played the first nine years of my career and it’s a big part of who I am, cool to do it here.”


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In the suite, Joe Tavares pumped his fist and jumped in celebration.

“Everything you go through in your childhood and living a dream playing in the NHL, to have him here was tremendous,” John Tavares said of his dad being on hand. “He wasn’t there for a lot of my minor-hockey days (because of work) and just really special for him for a big one like that.”

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Alas, the Leafs’ fun didn’t last. 

After Auston Matthews was stopped by Sorokin in overtime, the Islanders controlled the puck and came back down the ice. 

Bo Horvat took an on-the-tape pass from Mathew Barzal and went high on Samsonov for the winner 46 seconds into the extra period. 

Tavares’ 999th point came on a goal that was fitting in the way that the Leafs captain scored it.

Never known for taking a shift off, Tavares worked to get inside on Isles defenceman Robert Bortuzzo in front of the net. With his back to Sorokin, Tavares managed to get his stick on a Conor Timmins shot to re-direct the puck into the net at 7:43 of the second period. Tavares’ hand-eye co-ordination always has been a strength and we witnessed it on the goal, his first in nine games.

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Matthews was thrilled that Tavares got the milestone point.

“That’s what it’s all about,” Matthews said. “He means so much to this team and as our captain, as our leader, he’s our guy. It’s always special to be part of moments like that and things you will remember.”


For whatever reason, the Leafs weren’t prepared for the Islanders’ forecheck and that helped New York take a 2-1 lead in the first period. 

There was no carryover for Toronto from Saturday night, when the Leafs played their best defensive game of the season in shutting out the Nashville Predators. 

In that game, the Leafs held Nashville to a total of five high-danger scoring chances at 5-on-5. The Islanders had 10 high-danger scoring chances in the first period at 5-on-5 and finished with 15, so the Leafs did improve as the game progressed. 

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The Isles outmuscled and outhustled the Leafs and in doing so erased a 1-0 lead that came when Matthews scored on a power play at 5:50.


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Samsonov didn’t look good when Brock Nelson beat him on the glove side at 9:20. The Leafs were loose in the defensive zone when Nelson found space in the faceoff circle to Samsonov’s right. 

At 18:33, lifelong Isles fourth-liner Casey Cizikas drove to the net and popped a Cal Clutterbuck pass over Samsonov.

Before the Leafs found their legs in the second period, Kyle Palmieri scored from the slot at 1:10 to put the home side up 3-1.

A similar start by the Leafs on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers won’t cut it.

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