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Barzal Getting Even Better, Taking Next Step to Stardom

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Mathew Barzal of the New York Islanders

Mat Barzal has already earned himself plenty of accolades over the course of his short career in the NHL.

His overtime winner on Sunday afternoon was just the latest accomplishment among many for the 23-year-old New York Islanders star. Barzal showed a bit of brilliance stretching out to remain onsides to take a pass from Jordan Eberle and then backhanded the puck past  Washington Capitals netminder Braden Holtby.

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More importantly for the Islanders, it highlighted the maturation of Mat Barzal’s game through this postseason.

“He wants to be that difference-maker and today he got an opportunity, and he capitalized on that,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “I just like the growth of Mathew. He’s growing all the time as a player and these experiences are going to help him grow. Play the right way, knowing how to play in the playoffs, understanding you have to fight for inches.

“All those things. It’s a really good learning process and he’s been accepting the challenges that I’ve given him.”

Barzal’s offensive production has picked up lately as the postseason has gone on. In his last four games, Barzal has recorded five points (two goals, three assists).

The Islanders forward joined some pretty hefty company with his overtime goal on Sunday as well. He became the fifth player in franchise history to score in overtime at age 23 or younger. Among those to do so include Mike Bossy, Pat LaFontaine and Ken Morrow.

And Barzal’s game in his own end has improved and the young Islander has shown some hustle to get back and break up plays.

All of that has been a positive for the Islanders, who are on the verge of sweeping a First Round opponent for the second year in a row. Mat Barzal, along with the rest of the top line, has been clicking and they’ve been finding the back of the net more.

“I feel like our line has been pretty solid,” Barzal said. “Five on five we’ve played well. I think we’ve scored a few goals now five on five and it’s key. I think special teams battle, but if you can get goals five on five.”

Pelech’s 26 Birthday a Happy One

New York Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech had a pretty good 26th birthday on Sunday. Pelech had an assist on Anders Lee’s goal in the first period and finished the game a plus-1.

The setup for Lee’s goal was a rather nice one as Pelech was able to hear Lee calling for the puck down low and put it precisely on Lee’s stick. On the defensive side, Pelech showed once again why he is such a critical part of the Islanders roster.

“I think what you’re seeing is Pelly is hitting his stride,” Trotz said. “He’s getting more and more reps so that all those instincts that he has that make him such a good defender. Those are getting acutely sharp. I think he has a lot of confidence and she should because he’s playing really well.”

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FishBulb

Agree with most of this but Barzy HAS to start shooting more. He passes up way too many opportunities.

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