NEW YORK (AP) John Tavares heard the New York Islanders fans chanting his name in the closing minutes of the team's final home game of the season.
The captain, set to be a free agent this summer, was thankful for the support and reiterated he hopes to be back next season.
''It was really nice from the fans,'' Tavares said after the Islanders continued their recent mastery of the Rangers with a 2-1 victory over their crosstown rivals Thursday night.
''I've always been treated since Day 1 very well,'' he said. ''They've always stuck by me and been really proud to have me here and made it a lot easier for me to just kind of grow into the player and person that I am. I'm just appreciative of that. I'm not trying to look at it as it's the end because obviously that hasn't been determined. I've always wanted it to work out and stay, so that's still what I hope transpires.''
Thomas Hickey and Anthony Beauvillier scored 2:32 apart in the second period and Jaroslav Halak stopped 34 shots as the Islanders beat the Rangers for the 11th time in the past 12 meetings.
They swept the four-game season series for the second time in the past three seasons, after never previously doing it since joining the NHL in 1972. The Islanders are also 6-0-0 at home against the Rangers since moving to Barclays Center in 2015.
''We just want to beat them no matter what the game is,'' Halak said. ''Obviously tonight, for both teams we are out of the playoffs and it doesn't really mean anything but we still have to finish the season strong. ... It's always a good feeling after these games when we beat them.''
Halak improved to 18-7-0 in his career against the Rangers, including 10-2-0 since joining the Islanders before the 2014-15 season. This season, he went 4-0-0 with a shutout and a 1.47 goals-against average against them.
''The numbers are eye-opening,'' Islanders coach Doug Weight said. ''It's not just a good roll, he gets up for those games. He competes and finds a way to beat them.''
Kevin Hayes scored and Ondrej Pavelec finished with 20 saves for the Rangers, who lost for the eighth time in 10 games (2-6-2).
''We got quite a few pucks at the net but against a goaltender that's got our number the way their guy has right now, you need to get on the inside,'' Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. ''You need to get more traffic and you need to create second opportunities and we didn't do that well enough.''
This is the first time since 2010 - and just the second since 2001 - that neither team will be in the postseason.
The Rangers will miss out for the first time since that 2009-10 season, and second since the lockout wiped out the 2004-05 campaign.
The Islanders, who won for the fourth time in the past nine overall but just the fifth in 21 (5-12-4), are missing the playoffs for the second straight year, and eighth in the past 11.
''We're a skilled team, were a good team. We should be a playoff team,'' Weight said. ''We have to find a way to be more consistent because we don't belong where we are right now.''
The Islanders trailed 1-0 after one period and were outshot 13-5 in the second, but scored twice to take the lead.
Hickey tied it on a one-timer off a pass from Mathew Barzal as his shot from the left point deflected off a Rangers player and past Pavelec at 4:55.
Beauvillier put the Islanders ahead on a give-and-go with Andrew Ladd for his 21st at 7:27. It gave the second-year forward a goal in five straight games.
The Rangers got on the scoreboard on a power play 4 1/2 minutes into the game. Brady Skjei's one-timer went over the net, bounced off the glass to Hayes on the left side and he quickly put it in for his 25th. It gave Hayes a point (four goals, one assist) in five straight games.
NOTES: Barzal got his 61st assist, moving one away from tying Sergei Makarov (62 for Calgary in 1989-90) for third-most by a rookie since the 1983-84 season. Barzal is also two away from tying Bryan Trottier for the Islanders' rookie mark set in 1975-76. ... Anders Lee was initially given credit for Hickey's goal, but it was later changed. That kept Lee one away from becoming the first Islanders player to have 40 since Jason Blake in 2006-07. ''He came off the ice and said `I didn't touch it,''' Weight said. ... Barzal has 10 goals and 14 points in his past 12 games. ... Beauvillier has seven goals and 11 points in his past eight games. ... Hayes has 15 goals and 26 points in 32 games since returning from an injury Jan. 25. ... Vigneault remained tied with Ron Wilson for 10th place on the career wins list at 648.
Rangers: At Philadelphia on Saturday in the season finale.
Islanders: At Detroit on Saturday night in the season finale.
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