Johnny wants to 'be good'

DON BRENNAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:34 AM ET

Unlike most teenagers, John Tavares knows exactly what he wants to be when he grows up.

As former movie star ET would put it, the Islanders centre wants to "Be Good."

Tavares was a definite force in his first NHL road game, a 3-2 overtime loss to the Senators at Scotiabank Place last night.

“He’s doing everything he can to make the process quicker for himself,” his coach, Scott Gordon, said early yesterday. “He’s a fanatic about his game and getting better.”

Of all Islanders forwards, only winger Kyle Okposo had more ice time than his 19:46. Tavares assisted on the goal that sent the game to overtime, sharing the team lead in shots on goal with four and had more shots blocked (another four) than any of his teammates.

He was also victim of the game’s best save when his shot at an open side with five minutes to go in the second was stopped by the quick left leg of Ottawa goalie Pascal Leclaire, who wouldn’t budge when Tavares took two whacks at the rebound.

“It was a good experience,” the 19-year-old Tavares said afterward. “Playing against their top D-pairing, and the (Jason) Spezza line was definitely a great challenge for myself. It was a great way to get some experience and improve.

“I thought I did well. I’m hoping to do better next time and keep improving from there.”

Off the ice, Tavares is being taught the ropes by his veteran teammates. He’s living with Islanders captain Doug Weight and his family until he decides on a place of his own. Weight, who has three kids, says he tried to get his billet to do some babysitting the other night, but the prospect was less appealing than the Yankees tickets Tavares had in his pocket.

“I was told the other day that I scored my first goal 18 years to the day of our first game (this season),” Weight told a media gathering before the game, chuckling as he spoke. “And I thought that was pretty cool, until (they) said John was six months old (at the time).

“Then I had to go home and think about it for a couple of days.”

To think that Tavares is only 19 now is also something to shake your head about.

It makes you go hmm ...

The Senators’ best two players in the first period were their best two fighters: Matt Carkner and Chris Neil. In that order, too ... This is not the hat trick fans were hoping for from Alex Kovalev in his Ottawa debut as a Senator, but the slick Russian did in fact lose his helmet three times during the course of the evening ... In a welcome to the NHL moment, Anton Volchenkov sent Tavares flying backward with a big first-period hit.

Just sayin’

Coach Cory Clouston said the Neil, Peter Regin, Jonathan Cheechoo line was his best. The first two lines? “They’ve got to get better,” said Clouston. “It’s a long season.”

Stops and starts

It took until just the second game of the season for W Milan Michalek to show his new teammates that he has a high pain threshold. On the receiving end of a Luke Schenn high-stick during a breakaway Tuesday, Michalek had his two front teeth broken in half, leaving nerves exposed and a crimson red trail to the Ottawa bench. “I wanted to (take the penalty shot),” the Czech said yesterday, “but the ref told me I was bleeding too much.” In the dressing room, Michalek sat still only for a couple of minutes. “The dentist wasn’t coming,” he said. “So I just went back and played.”

Between periods

D Matt Carkner had a hard time remembering his biggest goal before the one he scored last night. “Biggest goal? I’ve had a ton, so ...” he started, laughing. “I’d have to say in playoffs ... I’m trying to think here. I haven’t really had too many huge goals. This definitely tops the charts by a million. I scored six goals (in one game) in novice hockey. That was a good one.” ... The best save by Isles G Martin Biron was the grab he made off Alex Kovalev, who was attempting to convert a Jason Spezza pass, with just over six minutes to go.

don.brennan@sunmedia.ca


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