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Tavares and Isles beat Leafs 5-3

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 18, 2013 at 11:58 pm •  Published: April 18, 2013

TORONTO (AP) — John Tavares and the New York Islanders have been road warriors this season and will have to continue to win away from home to end their playoff drought.

Tavares had two goals and an assist Thursday as the seventh-place Islanders rallied past Toronto 5-3 on Thursday and moved within two points of the Maple Leafs for fifth place in the Eastern Conference.

The Islanders overcame an early 2-0 deficit to win the first of five straight road games they will play to end the regular season. They improved to 13-5-2 away from home, and earned their fifth win in six games as they chase their first playoff berth since 2007.

"That's where we want to go, we want to keep moving up ... and take care of our own business," Tavares said. "That's the best way to handle the situation we're in.

"We know when we play well we can really take advantage of our opportunity here and not just get in but keep playing."

New York is 10-1-2 in its last 13 games.

Brad Boyes, with a goal and two assists, Matt Moulson and Frans Nielsen also scored for New York.

"We've still got 12 periods of hockey left and on the road against some good quality teams," Tavares said.

Cody Franson, Joffrey Lupul and Dion Phaneuf scored for the Leafs, who were solidly outshot 38-21 Phil Kessel, appearing in his 500th career NHL game, added three assists.

Toronto will have to wait to clinch its first playoff berth since 2004. The Leafs could have ended their postseason drought with a win over the Islanders and a Carolina victory over the Winnipeg Jets, but instead dropped to 13-8-2 at home with a second straight loss.

Now the Leafs head into an important road game in Ottawa against the sixth-place Senators.

Franson said Toronto's woes aren't the result of the club looking ahead to the postseason.

"We have to stop the bleeding here and get back to what made us successful," he said. "But our lack of lack of success the last two games has nothing to do with thinking we've got a playoff spot.

"This is adversity. A lot of our mistakes are usually correctable, we just have to pay attention."

Lupul said after going ahead, the Leafs became their own worst enemy.

"We were making awful, awful turnovers especially when we got up 2-0 in the first," he said. "We were throwing the puck in the middle of the ice and giving them a chance to turn the momentum and have success.

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