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New York Islanders

Horvat ‘Absolutely’ the Linemate Barzal Envisioned, Why Line is Meshing



New York Islanders Bo Horvat, Mathew Barzal and Noah Dobson celebrating Horvat's first goal as an Islander (Photo courtesy of New York Islanders Twitter)
New York Islanders Bo Horvat, Mathew Barzal and Noah Dobson celebrating Horvat's first goal as an Islander (Photo courtesy of New York Islanders Twitter)

The New York Islanders newest dynamic duo, Mathew Barzal and Bo Horvat, came through on Tuesday night, sending the UBS Arena crowd into a frenzy.

Horvat was on the receiving end of a Barzal pass, ripping a one-time shot on a puck that hadn’t even landed on the ice yet top shelf over the glove hand of Seattle Kraken netminder Martin Jones.

Let’s take you frame by frame.

That goal extended the Islanders lead to 4-0 five minutes into the middle frame.

Horvat’s 32nd goal of the season set a new career-high, and so far, it’s been a picture-perfect start for Horvat, Barzal, and the Islanders coming out of the break.

They’ve beaten a struggling team in the Philadelphia Flyers in a game where Horvat and Barzal had a chance to learn one another’s tendencies, on the fly, before beating a Kraken team that came from out west after not playing in nine days.

What the Islanders did was take care of business and now find themselves just a point behind the Washington Capitals (one game in hand).

Horvat wanted to get off to a strong start with new club, and scoring in his second game, on home ice, nevertheless, was a monkey off his back.

“I’m not gonna lie. It definitely felt good,” Horvat said. “I took a little bit of a deep breath, and it felt even better to score it at home and then, on top of that, get to win, so I made it that much sweeter.”

Horvat told NYI Hockey Now following Monday’s game that he had to expect the unexpected when playing with Barzal, after he was on the recieving end of a behind-the-back pass against Philadelphia.

He echoed that sentiment Tuesday night and shared his game plan alongside no. 13.

“You’re trying to find holes,” Horvat said, which is exactly what he did on the goal.

Barzal stripped the puck, and right when that happened, Horvat skated from the slot to open ice to the right of Jones and opened up thie hips.

“I mean, you’re trying to get open, especially for a guy like that, who is able to make plays and be in the right positions at the right time,” Horvat said. “Expect the unexpected from a guy like that.

“And luckily, I expected tonight.”

Horvat’s intelligence and awareness to find Barzal and also find space is the kind of player no. 13 has been longing for.

“The more he can get me the puck, the more I can make play,” Barzal said. And you know, the more plays we make, it’s going to come back around to him, and he’s going to be in a good spot to score, so I thought the last few games we were flying, so hopefully we can just keep it going.”

Barzal was asked if Horvat was the type of linemate he always envisioned playing with.

“Absolutely,” Barzal said. “I think you can just tell. I seem to turn up, and (he) just seems to be there in the right goal-scoring spot, so it’s exciting. I’m excited.

“I feel like I even got a little more juice out there, just playing with him. So yeah, it’s nice to know that when I turn up and make plays, he’s going to be sitting there in the right spots.

In two games alongside one another, 27:15, the Islanders are outshooting their opponents 16-12, out chancing and outscoring their opponents 12-10, 1-0, respectively.

The Islanders have also won 71.43 percent of their draws.

One aspect of the duo’s success that can’t be overlooked is the final member of the line: Josh Bailey.

“His intelligence and some of the plays that he makes, he fits right in with that (line),” Islanders head coach Lane Lambert said about Bailey. “So far, it’s been real successful. They’ve looked good.”

When Barzal discussed his early success with Horvat, he made sure to credit the longest-tenured Islander.

“Well, I think also having Bailey with us […] those two are real high IQ players,” Barzal said. He (Horvat) is just so complete. He does everything. Can dish. Can score. Forechecks hard. Wins battles.

“So, for a guy like me, those things are huge.”

The line has played 22:18 together, per Natural Statrick, outshooting their opponents 16-9, with 12 scoring chances to their opponents seven, winning 76.92 percent of their draws.

With an off day on Wednesday, Bo Horvat, Mathew Barzal, and the rest of the New York Islanders are gearing up to host his former team, the Vancouver Canucks, as Anthony Beauvillier returns on Thursday.