NEW YORK — The New York Islanders invariably look to their captain John Tavares for a boost and he delivered with a timely hat trick against the struggling Arizona Coyotes.
Tavares completed his three-goal night with a tiebreaking score in the third period, lifting the Islanders over the winless Arizona Coyotes 5-3 on Tuesday night.
The Islanders won their third straight and improved to 5-3-1. Jaroslav Halak made 32 saves for New York.
“He was good. Obviously he was on the puck,” Islanders coach Doug Weight said of his captain’s performance. “He led us tonight. We needed his leadership.”
Adam Pelech had three assists for the Islanders, and fellow defenseman Scott Mayfield cemented the win with his first goal of the season at 17:03, a goal on which Tavares assisted. It was the first goal for an Islanders defenseman this season.
The Coyotes — starting a five-game road trip — fell to 0-8-1 under new coach Rick Tocchet.
“We played hard but a couple of plays here or there went against us and the puck was in the net,” Tocchet said.
Weight credited the opposition for putting up a good fight against the Islanders, who improved to 3-0-1 on home ice.
“They are a quick team, they want to play fast,” he said. “They did a good job of getting out of their zone. They battled.”
Tavares’ seventh career three-goal game came on a night when he also moved past Islanders forward Bob Bourne into seventh place on the career franchise goals list. The 27-year-old Tavares has six goals this season and 241 career tallies. Bourne, a swift-skating forward, had 238 goals with the Islanders from 1974-86.
Tavares also passed John Tonelli into seventh place on the team’s all-time points list. Tavares now has 547 career points after his four-point night. Tonelli had 544 points during his Islander career, which included winning four Stanley Cups from 1980-83 with Bourne.
“It’s significant and special to me because you look up to those guys and they obviously laid the foundation here for the Islanders,” Tavares said. “I have to pinch myself sometimes when I see some of the names I’ve passed. Hopefully I can keep going.”
Brock Nelson put the Islanders ahead 3-2 early in the third on the power play, but Arizona’s Nick Cousins tied it at 8:57 with a long-range shot that eluded Halak.
“We tied the game and were in good shape but we decided to do a couple of things differently.” Tocchet added.
Nelson’s fifth goal of the season on a snapshot from the right circle beat goalie Louis Dominque at 4:32 of the third, three minutes after Arizona’s Mario Kempe tied it at 2.
Tavares scored his fourth and fifth goals of the season in the second after Arizona’s Anthony Duclair scored early in the first.
Duclair opened the scoring with a power-play goal at 4:47 of the first. Duclair finished off a passing play started by former Ranger Derek Stepan and rookie Clayton Keller.
The goal was Duclair’s second of the season and came with Anders Lee of the Islanders in the penalty box for tripping.
It was the seventh time in nine games the Coyotes scored a first- period goal.
Starting an eight-day road trip, the Coyotes had the better of play in the first, outshooting the Islanders 14-6 before a sparse crowd of 9,795 at Barclays Center.
Stepan, traded to Arizona by the Rangers after last season, has two goals and five assists in his last seven games for the low-scoring Coyotes, who have 21 goals in nine games. Six of those goals are from the 19-year-old Keller, who had two assists against the Islanders.
Tavares tied it at 3:41 of the second when he tipped in a pass from Jordan Eberle after linemate Anders Lee stripped the puck from Coyotes defenseman Jason Demers to the right of Dominque, who is 0-5 so far after being pressed into a leading role with starter Antti Raanta out with a lower-body injury for the past two weeks.
Tavares put the Islanders ahead when a pass from Pelech towards Tavares in the slot, banked in off Tavares’ skate at 14:25 of the second.
“The results are coming, which is nice,” Tavares added. “Obviously when I get opportunities I want to put them in.”
Eberle, who assisted on Tavares’ first two goals and has six assists on the campaign, has yet to score through nine games in his first season with the Islanders.
NOTES: The Coyotes will host the Islanders on Jan. 22. … The Islanders scratched forward Josh Ho-Sang and defensemen Ryan Pulock and Dennis Seidenberg while the Coyotes scratched defenseman Kevin Connauton, forward Lawson Crouse and goaltender Antti Raanta.
Coyotes: At New York Rangers on Thursday night.
Islanders: At Minnesota on Thursday night.