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New York Islanders

Barzal Scores Twice To Help Islanders Avoid Elimination In Double OT



AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

ELMONT, NY– Numerous times this year and numerous times in their postseason series against the Carolina Hurricanes, the New York Islanders have buckled under pressure. But in the game that they needed to most, the Islanders found a way to hold themselves together.

After more than 80 minutes of tightly contested hockey on Saturday afternoon at UBS Arena, Mathew Barzal scored his second goal of the game at 1:24 of double overtime to help the Islanders defeat the Hurricanes 3-2 in Game 4 of the best-of-seven series, avoiding a sweep and, for the time being, elimination.

“You have no idea how proud I am of this group,” said Islanders head coach Patrick Roy. “We came out, and we played hard. Even if they took the lead, we stayed focused. Our mindset was really good, and I think guys were determined to find a way to fight to win this game.”

With both teams exhausted and the fans in the building growing more anxious by the minute, RobertBortuzzo wired a slap shot on net that Barzal deflected past Hurricanes goalie Frederik Andersen at the doorstep for the winning score.

“I said to the guys between the first overtime and second that it doesn’t have to be pretty,” Roy said. “A lot of times, in overtime, any shot could turn out to be dangerous. We had a few ones, and they had a few ones, and that could have gone in. It was a great play by Robert, putting that puck in the right place, and it was a nice tip by Barzal on that one and a big win for our team.”

Bazral put the Islanders on the board, tying the score at 1-1 midway through the second period with his first goal of the postseason.

In goal, Semyon Varlamov kept the Islanders steady, turning away 42 of 44 shots, besting Andersen in net for the Hurricanes (32 of 35), and reaffirming his spot as the team’s starting goalie for the rest of the postseason.

“It was an awesome game,” said Varlamov. “We’re still in it, which is very exciting. It was an unbelievable game.”

The Islanders monopolized momentum in the early going, generating more than a few quality scoring chances to start the game, but gave it away when Seth Jarvis made it 1-0 Carolina with a power play goal eight minutes into the first period.

With the crowd taken out of the game, so too were the Islanders. The solid breakouts and strong forecheck they displayed to start the afternoon disappeared as they entered the intermission down by a goal.

Once Barzal scored his first of the game, the Islanders looked reinvigorated. Hope within the building grew when the Islanders killed off a Noah Dobson tripping penalty and did so even more when Carolina’s Sebastian Aho was called for a trip of his own to close out the second period.

The Islanders made sure not to waste one of their few power play opportunities of the game as Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored at 1:44 of the third period to give them a 2-1 lead. As Dobson fired a shot on goal, Andersen made a rare mistake by coughing up a rebound right to Pageau, giving him a wide-open net to shoot at for his first goal of the postseason.

“It’s always fun to contribute offensively,” Pageau said. “My game is not always about scoring goals or making points. It’s more about winning my battles and my faceoffs, but it’s definitely fun. I was happy for that goal.”

Pageau finished the game, winning 19 of his 23 draws at the dot. As a whole, the Islanders won 68% of their faceoffs against Carolina.

But just as a lead has never been safe for the Islanders this season, it wasn’t again on Saturday. With Bortuzzo serving two minutes for holding, Stefan Noesen tied the score with 5:22 remaining in regulation, deflecting a puck between the legs of Varlamov for a power play goal.

Through the first overtime and into the second, Carolina continued to rack up its shot total, but the Islanders found their resolve by remembering the numerous times they’ve been in that very position.

“There’s no doubt in this locker room,” said Noah Dobson. “We know we have a character group and a lot of belief. We’ve talked about that. Guys have responded all year. We’ve been in some holes, so it’s no different here.”

Having won Game 4, the Islanders still need to win the final three games of the series in order to advance to the second round of the playoffs. They’ll attempt to do so starting with Game 5 on Tuesday night in Raleigh.