The Islanders' captain scored the tying and game winning goal in a game that had the visitors playing out of their skates. Tavares went behind the net, picked Adam Larsson's pocket, made his way to the front of the net and put the puck behind Keith Kinkaid . The 3-2 overtime win over the New Jersey Devils snapped a two-game skid.
For good measure, Tavares celebrated the goal by throwing his hands up and down in the air in homage to the recognizable "Yes! Yes! Yes" chants that has become synonymous with the Islanders' fan base.
"[Larsson] did really have an idea or get the sense where pressure was coming from," Tavares said about his game winning goal. "I just tried to get a good jump on him and get an opportunity to strip him. Just took it to the net. I kind of saw [Calvin de Haan] coming and their guy didn't really commit to me, so I just took it to the net.
"The goalie committed to me and I just took the far side."
The ending was impressive and gave the many Islanders fans who made the trip to Newark something to smile about as they streamed out of Prudential Center, but the victory by no means came easy.
The Islanders started off the game sluggishly, which resulted in only three shots on net through the first 11:41 of the opening period and some sloppy plays by the visiting squad. And despite starting the second period better it was New Jersey that scored the opening goal. A deflection by Josh Bailey 1:02 into the third evened the scored, but the Devils retook the lead after capitalizing on a mistake by Jaroslav Halak.
Tavares's game tying goal came off a wacky shot that banked off Kinkaid and into the back of the net.
"[The performance] was better I think than the last two games," Matt Martin said after the game. "This is a pretty hostile environment and it's hard playing in this building. When they get a lead it's even harder, so I think we got better as the first went on. Obviously they took the lead in the second, but we came out in the third and battled. And we found a way to win."
Friday's win was a crucial one as teams beneath them, like the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers continue to gain momentum in the standings. The Islanders have recaptured first place in the Metropolitan, however both the Capitals and the Rangers are just five points behind the Isles.
Points have become even more important than they were in the first half of the season as the Islanders just crossed the 41-game plato - not to mention the importance of snapping the two-game losing streak for the Isles.
"There's going to be peaks and valleys through a season," Martin explained. "Obviously we haven't played our best hockey over the last few, but I think we were better tonight than we were the last two games. Still can be a lot better, but you start climbing that mountain again.
"It feels good to the two points and hopefully get two more tomorrow."