It was a penalty that the New York Islanders didn’t need to take and took their best offensive weapon, Mathew Barzal, out of the game in the midst of a blowout loss. It could also mean Barzal will not play in the crucial Game 6, and possibly last game ever at the Coliseum on Wednesday night.
Barzal’s ill-timed crosscheck to the face of Jan Rutta sent the Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman to the ice in pain at the end of the second period in what would be an 8-0 loss in Game 5. Barzal was assessed a five-minute major and game misconduct for the play and his night ended early for the infraction.
Even worse, Mathew Barzal put himself in a position for the league to hand down supplementary discipline for the reckless crosscheck. Misconduct penalties are automatically reviewed by the league.
“Just disappointed because it wasn’t going well and he just sort of dug it a little deeper for the guys,” Islanders head coach Barry Trotz said. “Usually what happens, the biggest concern you have as a coach when they do something like that is guys have to block shots and you lose another guy because they’re battling through it. I am disappointed in his decision there.”
The penalty opened up Barzal for at least a fine and a possible suspension if the league feels the play was heinous enough to warrant. Rutta had to be helped off the ice and did not return to the game after Barzal’s cross-check.
Mat Barzal received a five-minute major and a game misconduct for this crosscheck on Jan Rutta. pic.twitter.com/GZnvW9I5EH
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) June 22, 2021
The hit initiated a scrum on the ice just before the two teams headed to the dressing rooms for the second intermission.
When Trotz addressed the media after the ugly loss, he said the league had not yet contacted the organization about any supplementary discipline for Barzal’s actions. That call will likely come Tuesday.
Monday was the Islanders’ worst performance of the playoffs and they took an uncharacteristically high 57 minutes of penalties by the time the final buzzer had sounded. The Islanders now trail the best-of-seven series 3-2 and face elimination for a second straight season to the Tampa Bay Lightning as the series heads back to Long Island.
“It was one of those nights where you look at the things you don’t want to do,” Trotz said. “You obviously want to get off to a good start. You want to manage the puck. We didn’t manage the puck and they turned it into some transition. … The other thing you can’t do is take penalties and we those two things, in particular, you can’t do against this team.”
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