People who live through Hurricanes tend to credit divine intervention for their survival.
For the New York Islanders, their saving grace on Thursday night against Carolina was Mathew Bazal. With four points, including the winning goal in overtime, Barzal helped the Islanders sneak out of PNC Arena with a 5-4 win.
Barzal found his seventh goal of the season by blasting a one-timer from the left face-off circle for the decision-maker. He also tallied three assists for his second multi-point game in as many nights, elevating his team lead to 23 points this season.
The win was huge for the Islanders, rectifying their latest in a long line of brutal late-game losses to the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday.
Thursday’s contest seemed to be heading in a similar direction when Jack Drury drew the Hurricanes even 39 seconds into the third. Even after Kyle Palmieri scored for the Islanders on the power play, Sebastian Aho tied the game one last time with 2.5 seconds left in regulation while the Hurricanes had an extra-attacker.
Despite surrendering the lead twice, Semyon Varlamov was excellent in net for the Islanders.
While Varlamov’s stat line of 39 saves on 43 shots may not be all that impressive, it certainly is when considering the Islanders totaled just 16 shots on goal all game.
Carolina opened the scoring in the first period with Jalen Chatfield’s second goal of the season, assisted by some strange physics. Off an ordinary dump-in, three players chopped at the puck in front of the Islanders’ goal, causing it to awkwardly bounce up and over Varlamov and into the net.
The equalizer for the Islanders was much more aesthetically pleasing.
As Barzal raced into the attacking end, he drew the attention of four Hurricanes. Quickly, Barzal hit the breaks and placed a saucer pass perfectly on Bo Horvat’s backhand, which he deflected in for his seventh goal of the season near the end of the first.
For all the effort the Islanders put into catching Carolina in the first, they couldn’t put them back on the leash in the middle frame. The Hurricanes swirled in the offensive zone and reclaimed the lead when Jordan Staal capitalized on a lazy rebound the Islanders were too slow to clear.
The Islanders failed to manage a shot on goal for the first 15:59 of the period, but when they finally did, it tied the game. On the penalty kill, Simon Holmstrom flicked a backhand over Kochetkov’s glove-side shoulder. Holmstrom’s sixth goal of the season was also his third short-handed.
Pierre Engvall pushed the Islanders ahead with his second goal of the year a little more than two minutes later.
The win improves the Islanders’ record to 9-7-6 and gives them points in seven of their last eight games.
They’ll wrap up their three-game road trip on Saturday with a matchup at the Florida Panthers.
Notes: Anders Lee played in the 700th game of his NHL career on Thursday. He is 12th all-time in Islanders’ history and 12 games away from surpassing former captain Pat Flatley on the franchise leaderboard.