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John Tavares capped off his 600th NHL game by continuing his absurd scoring pace

There’s no one in the NHL on a hotter scoring pace than the New York Islanders captain right now.

NHL: New York Islanders at Washington Capitals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

We may look back on these last few weeks as being one of the best stretches of John Tavares’ NHL career. It’s probably premature to say, of course, since the 27-year-old captain of the New York Islanders has a lot of hockey left in him. But it’s hard to find a hotter player than him right now in the NHL.

Thanks to a goal and an assist in Thursday evening’s 4-3 loss to the Washington Capitals, Tavares has 14 points in his last six games with a pair of hat tricks. Before this stretch run? Tavares had just three points in seven games, and they all came in the Islanders’ second game of the season.

Tavares’ two-point night on Thursday also capped off his 600th NHL game, a feat only 13 other Islanders have accomplished in their careers.

“They obviously come by every so often; it’s hard to believe it’s at that point,” Tavares said to Newsday before Thursday night’s game. “Just try to treat it like every other one, play some good hockey and keep going with some of the good results we’ve had. I don’t know how much I’m going to reflect on 600, but pretty cool to get to that point and I don’t take it for granted.”

That magic touch that came to life once again on Thursday has catapulted Tavares into sole position of the NHL’s second overall scoring spot, just a goal behind red-hot Nikita Kucherov’s 13. Tavares also is tied for third in the NHL with 17 total points on the season thus far. Had Tavares continued on his pace to start the season, he’d be nowhere near the top of the NHL leaderboards.

Thanks to his scorching pace, the Islanders have won five of their last seven games as they have — overall — been playing better hockey. The Islanders did fall short in a Metropolitan Division matchup against the Capitals on Thursday, but Tavares led all New York forwards with six shots on goal.

It is a pace that will, clearly, slow down at some point this season. Alex Ovechkin had seven goals in his first two games of the year, but in 11 games since, the dynamic scorer has just three more. Much like most top scorers in the NHL, their pace eventually evens out to a more sustainable rate. Tavares won’t be shooting over 40 percent for the next 69 games, no matter how nice it’d be.

While the Islanders have done all they can to take advantage of Tavares’ incredible few weeks, these numbers look even better as his status as an unrestricted free agent looms next offseason. Tavares will no doubt be in line for a pay bump after completing his six-year, $33 million deal come July 1 — whether that be in New York or someplace else.

This stretch, however, has shown that Tavares is clearly the beating heart of this Islanders team. It’s hard to say exactly where the Islanders would be in the standings without Tavares’ 14 points over the last six games, but they’d definitely be on less competitive ground.

Whether or not these last few weeks ultimately move the needle for the Islanders in getting Tavares to re-sign in New York, the captain has clearly shown his worth to the team. Now it’s up to the Islanders to make the most of it this year and in the hopeful seasons to come.