It was a historic night at UBS Arena, as Toronto Maple Leafs captain and former NY Islanders captain John Tavares became the 98th player in NHL history to record 1,000 career points.
There was speculation all day around whether Tavares would reach the milestone against his former club amid the boobirds raining down from the crowd, as the wounds have yet to heal from the former savior of the franchise spurning Long Island to return to his childhood home.
The moment wasn't short of dramatic, as a second period goal by Tavares put him just one point shy of the mark entering the third. As the Isles clung to a 3-2 lead throughout the final stanza, the Leafs pulled Ilya Samsonov in favor of an extra attacker, sending an onslaught of shots towards Ilya Sorokin. Despite turning aside a flurry of opportunities, a William Nylander shot from the point deflected off Tavares, and Morgan Reilly buried the goal from the right of Sorokin's crease with under seven seconds remaining. The Maple Leafs bench cleared to celebrate the momentous occasion with their captain, as the Islanders sat and watched, wondering how they'd just squandered another lead in the waning moments.
The Islanders recognized the moment, posting a graphic of Tavares donning the Islander threads with the number 1,000, as his former teammates like Cal Clutterbuck tapped his stick in congratulations, with some of the fans in attendance giving a standing ovation while others booed. Tavares himself acknowledged both the Islanders players and fans who showed him support. Making the moment even more special was his father was in attendance with the rest of the Leafs' dads for their annual father's trip.
“The uniqueness of doing it where I played my first nine years of my career and a big part of who I am and the way this place impacted me, it was tremendous," said Tavares. "So, really unique and cool to do it here.”