5 things we learned in the NHL: Tavares continues scoring streak

Lars Eller scored two goals and the Washington Capitals defeated the New York Islanders.

The Islanders’ captain has been unstoppable of late, a seasoned veteran had an impressive birthday, and a Canadian team has their power play clicking.

Here’s five things we learned in the NHL on Thursday night.

Tavares continues scoring streak
John Tavares continued his impressive scoring run with a first period goal against the Washington Capitals.

The New York Islanders captain has now scored 10 goals in his last six games and has 12 on the season — just one short of NHL leader Nikita Kucherov, who has 13.

Tavares, 27, is in the final year of his contract with the Islanders and due to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. He added an assist in New York’s 4-3 loss to the Caps.

The Mississauga, Ont., native’s career high in goals is 38, which he recorded in the 2014-15 season.

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Back-up experiment doesn’t work for Maple Leafs
It didn’t take long for the Toronto Maple Leafs to miss Frederik Andersen.

Their game against the Los Angeles Kings wasn’t five minutes old when the Kings had already scored twice on Toronto backup Curtis McElhinney. It was 3-0 after the first period and the game finished 5-3.

The 34-year-old McElhinney was making his second start of the season and finished with 23 saves. To McElhinney’s misfortune, his team was coming off a 3-1 win over Anaheim from the night before and playing their third game of the week.

McElhinney was claimed off waivers in January from the Blue Jackets to solidify the Maple Leafs’ backup goaltending situation. But with both Calvin Pickard and Garret Sparks lurking with the AHL Marlies, every appearance from McElhinney is under the microscope.

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Cullen does it all on birthday
Turning 41-years-old has never felt so good for Minnesota Wild forward Matt Cullen.

Cullen did a little bit of everything on his special day, including scoring his first goal with the Wild since 2013 in his 1,500th NHL game.

He didn’t stop there and assisted on Tyler Ennis’s goal later in the first period.

Whatever it is that Cullen is having for a pre-birthday meal, he should keep doing. His success on his special day is something that has continued throughout his lenghthly career.

Anderson proving his worth
Josh Anderson is starting to heat up for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

After missing all of training camp and the first two games of the regular season, the right-winger signed a three-year, $5.55 million deal with the Blue Jackets.

The 23-year-old took a couple of games to get his legs going and after Thursday’s performance against Florida, it appears as though he’s ready to prove why he’s worth that new contract.

Anderson scored twice as Columbus crushed the Florida Panthers 7-3. He now has eight points (five goals) in 11 games.

Jets power play comes to life
The Winnipeg Jets‘ power play hasn’t been anything special so far this season. But if Thursday was any indication, things may be starting to turn around.

Mark Scheifele and Tyler Myers scored power-play goals in the first period for Winnipeg in a 5-2 win.

The Jets entered the game with the fourth worst power-play percentage in the NHL at 13.5 per cent, but they’ve now converted on the man advantage for two-straight games.