John Tavares scores twice to lead Islanders past Sharks 4-2
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) John Tavares was looking for a strong start. Not only did he accomplish that, he finished just as well.
Tavares scored twice, including 36 seconds into the game, and the New York Islanders hung on to beat the San Jose Sharks 4-2 Tuesday night.
''We've been having a tough time scoring lately, especially 5-on-5,'' Tavares said. ''You could sense that we were ready for a good start.''
Mikhail Grabovski and Johnny Boychuk also scored as the Islanders (8-5-3) won in regulation for the second time since starting 6-2-1 this season.
''We deserved it,'' coach Jack Capuano said. ''We worked hard and did a lot of good things against a real good hockey team.''
Thomas Greiss, facing the club that drafted him for the first time, made 34 saves and New York swept the season series by winning in regulation at San Jose for the first time since February 2003.
Joel Ward and Brent Burns scored for the Sharks, who fell to 3-8 after opening the season with four straight wins.
Martin Jones, who set a franchise record for the longest shutout streak (234:33) earlier this season, gave up two goals on the Islanders' first three shots and was pulled after 3:30.
''We needed a momentum change,'' Jones said. ''It's not fun getting pulled but I don't know that I was surprised. I want to be better and contribute more.''
Alex Stalock came on and made 20 saves on 21 shots.
The Sharks remain without a power-play goal at home (0 for 21) after failing to convert on two chances.
Tavares scored an easy goal in the first minute. Brock Nelson's drive bounced hard off Jones' pads and straight to Tavares, who had a clear shot.
''It came off a rebound,'' Ward said. ''We should have been there.''
Grabovski scored less than 3 minutes later, all but ignoring a Sharks defender and firing the puck into the net. Jones exited after that.
''When you get two goals early, especially on the road, it gives you a lot of confidence,'' Tavares said. ''It's a big win.''
Tavares added an empty-net goal in the final seconds. It was his third game back after missing three with flu-like symptoms.
Ward scored his eighth goal midway through the second period, beating a pair of defenders and Greiss. Ward has not gone more than one game without a point this season.
Boychuk fired a shot from outside the blue line that appeared to take Stalock by surprise, making it 3-1.
''Good things happen when you shoot the puck,'' Boychuk said. ''It was going down and then it took flight. It was weird. I've never scored like that before.''
Burns scored after taking a pass from Tomas Hertl from behind the net with just more than 5 minutes remaining.
NOTES: Islanders forward Steve Bernier, a former Sharks first-round draft pick, got his first point since April 9. ... Grabovski scored his first goal since consecutive game-winners Oct. 24-26. ... Sharks C Joe Thornton played his 1,300th game. ... Sharks forward Melker Karlsson was recalled from the AHL and made his season debut.