John Tavares carrying the resurgent Islanders on his back

Islanders forward John Tavares celebrates a goal against the Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre...

Islanders forward John Tavares celebrates a goal against the Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, April 18, 2013. (DAVE ABEL/QMI Agency)

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:26 AM ET

TORONTO - Randy Carlyle likes to talk about bringing respect back to the Maple Leafs organization.

Down the hall at the Air Canada Centre on Thursday night, a 22-year-old John Tavares had the same thing in mind for the New York Islanders.

“You can see how bad we want it,” Tavares said after lighting up the Leafs for two goals and an assist in a 5-3 Isles victory.

“The perception has not been very good for our organization for a long time. I know what our goals are and where we are headed and what we want to achieve.

“I know we have a great future. I believe in this team and what we have. It’s great for me to be part of bringing the Islanders to being in the playoffs and the tradition that so many people care about down there.”

There’s no doubt that Tavares is the catalyst for the Islanders. Defenceman Mark Streit is the captain, but Tavares plays like one.

Tavares’ potential never was in doubt, going back to before the time when he was deemed “exceptional”


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