Johnny Boychuk, Casey Cizikas and Anders Lee all scored in the first period and Travis Hamonic added an empty-netter in the third to help the Islanders win their third straight overall and third in a row at home.
“We’re getting more of a rhythm coming out of our own end, getting up into the neutral zone,” Tavares said. “Guys are making plays and we’re starting to put some more pucks in the net.”
New York improved to 15-4-2 against Western Conference teams this season and moved three points behind the crosstown-rival Rangers for second place in the Metropolitan Division.
“(The Kings are) one of the best teams in the league and have been for the last couple of years,” Boychuk said. “There’s a reason why they’re a winning team and to beat them was a good test for us. Now we have to just put it behind us and look forward to our next game.”
Kyle Clifford and Milan Lucic scored, and Jhonas Enroth finished with 25 saves for the Kings, who had won three straight on the road. Los Angeles was coming off a 9-2 win at Boston on Tuesday night in the opener of a seven-game, 12-day road trip.
“Can’t play one way one night, another way another night,” Lucic said. “We have to find that consistency in our game night in and night out.”
After Clifford got the Kings on the scoreboard with less than nine minutes left in the second, Tavares restored the Islanders’ three-goal lead 2:20 later. It was the New York captain’s 20th goal of the season as he reached that mark for the sixth time in his career.
“I want more. I don’t want to stop there,” Tavares said. “If I get 20 more, it’d be great to help this team.”
Tavares got the puck in the neutral zone, skated across the blue line down the right side and wristed the puck past Enroth on the glove side with 6 1/2 minutes left in the second. He tied Brock Nelson for the team lead in goals and Kyle Okposo for points (43), and has a team-leading 11 multipoint games this season.
Despite the win, New York coach Jack Capuano wasn’t pleased with his team’s play at certain times.
“We had some serious breakdowns here tonight,” he said. “I thought midway through the second and the third, it just seemed certain guys weren’t moving their feet. … I don’t know if certain guys were fatigued tonight, tired mentally with some of the games we’ve played and the travel.”
Boychuk, who got the Islanders started in their 8-1 win over Edmonton on Sunday, did it again in this game. Tavares skated into the right faceoff circle, turned around and passed back to Boychuk, who fired it past Enroth on the glove side for his fifth of the season 6:05 into the game.
Cizikas doubled the lead a little more than five minutes later as he got rebound of a shot by Matt Martin in front and fired it past Enroth for his fifth with 8:41 left.
Lee made it 3-0 on the power play just 2:17 later from right in front as he tipped a slap shot through traffic by Nick Leddy. Okposo also had an assist on the play, giving him a team-leading 28.
“Our execution in the first period allowed them to get that lead,” Lucic said. “It was a poor start and a poor first period for us. … We weren’t ready to play tonight and they burned us.”
Clifford pulled the Kings to 3-1 with 8:50 left in the second with his first goal of the season.
Lucic made it 4-2 near the midpoint of the third with his 14th goal as the rebound of a shot by Carter appeared to deflect in off Lucic’s skate and stick. The goal was upheld after a video review.
After a penalty on the Islanders’ Nikolai Kulemin for playing with a broken stick, the Kings pulled Enroth for a sixth skater but Hamonic scored a short-handed empty-netter with 3:25 left.
NOTES: G Jonathan Quick, third in NHL with 28 wins, sat out after sustaining a lower-body injury late in the Kings’ 9-2 win at Boston on Tuesday night. He missed practice on Wednesday and is day to day. … Los Angeles also scratched D Jamie McBain, D Nick Shore and LW Tanner Pearson. … Carter remained three goals away from 300 for his career. … Leddy has six assists in his last six games. … Tavares has 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in his last eight games. … Grabovski’s assist on Boychuk’s goal was his 296th career point. He also has three goals and two assists in his last six games.