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Islanders' Tavares humbled by Hart nomination

| Friday, May 10, 2013, 7:33 p.m.

When New York Islanders center John Tavares boarded the team's airplane after a Game 5 loss to the Penguins, he received this message from assistant coach Doug Weight: “Come see me.”

“I figured it had to do with the game,” Tavares said.

The news was much better. Weight wanted to be the first to congratulate Tavares for his nomination for the Hart Trophy, awarded to the NHL's most valuable player.

He joins the Penguins' Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin of the Capitals as nominees. The winner will be named in late June.

“I was a little shocked,” Tavares said. “A lot of emotion. Just because of the game, disappointed. But, you know, it's a great honor, tremendous honor to be recognized, especially with those two guys and what great players they are.”

“It's nice, and I'm sure I'll have time to celebrate later,” Ovechkin told reporters in Washington. “But now it's all about business.”

Tavares, the No. 1 overall draft choice in 2009, finished third in the regular season with 28 goals, behind Ovechkin (32) and Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos (29).

Islanders coach Jack Capuano said Tavares is the chief reason the Islanders reached the playoffs and remain alive for Game 6 Saturday at Nassau Coliseum.

“Let's face it. If John Tavares didn't have the season that he had, we're probably not in the situation that we're in,” Capuano said. “When we need a big goal, he's been there for us.”

Tavares didn't tell many people of the honor.

“Just people close to me,” he said. “When I was told, I let my parents know. (They) are a big part of this since I first put on the skates when I was 3 years old.”

Tavares was more concerned about the timing of the announcement.

“I'm trying to stay in the moment and stay as focused as I can with the big game this weekend,” he said.

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