ELMONT, NY– Following the New York Islanders’ 5-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, here’s what the locker room chatter was about during postgame media availability:
Strongest Performance of Season
The New York Islanders were on the Pittsburgh Penguins from the get-go, scoring just over a minute into the first before really taking control of the game in the second before shutting the door with a few more goals in the third.
Forward Mathew Barzal thought their game tonight was their best performance of the season.
“Yeah, that might have been our best game of the year. Yeah, might have been our best game, really,” Barzal said.
As to what led to the onslaught: “I think just guys were making plays. Guys were making good passes. It seemed like everything was on the tape tonight.”
Islanders head coach Lane Lambert has spoken often this season about getting his group to play a north-south game, but Tuesday night, they took what the Penguins offered.
“I thought as much as we played north tonight, our defenseman held the puck,” Barzal said. “Our defenseman skated up the ice. Our defenseman made good passes to the middle and made it easy for the forwards. So as much as we want to play north, I think when they’re holding the puck and allowing us to come on the ice and change with possession, it really makes a difference.”
Noah Dobson also weighed in: “Yeah, I think [playing] on top of them, playing the right way and managing the puck. I think we made them play in their own end a lot of the night. It was a big part of the game plan was to stay above them, manage the puck, and we’ll get our chances.”
The New York Islanders’ third tally of the contest, a Josh Bailey tap-in, was the highlight of the game. But the goal wasn’t. The pass was.
Noah Dobson showed off his hockey IQ as he faked a slapshot before finding Bailey all alone at the back-post.
The pass from Dobson & the goal from Bailey. pic.twitter.com/J7kfvb3kaY
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) December 28, 2022
NYI Hockey Now asked Dobson whether he faked the shot because he saw Bailey or if he altered his plans with the Penguins lining up in the shooting lane.
“A little bit of both. I think I just had a little time. Just tried to take my ice and get my head up. And then, once I saw Bailey backdoor there, I just tried to sell it as best I could,” Dobson said. “And he obviously made no mistake in putting it in the back of the net.”
New York Islanders captain Anders Lee had this to say:
“It’s a great look, a heads-up play. I mean, he obviously gets the puck. He sees two guys in front. He might not have had a lane to shoot, so for him to have the poise to continue to keep his momentum going and find Bailey on the backside, it’s just a phenomenal play.”
Islanders wizard Mathew Barzal kept it short and simple when describing the pass.
“Oh, it was great. “Sick pass. Great vision. Yeah, that’s really good hockey.”
As for the goal scorer Josh Bailey: “I was trying to get lost on the back side, and as Martin kind of slides to the front of the net, that creates a seam, and Dobson does such a good job keeping his head up. I think when you see him with the puck, you’re instantly thinking, ‘Okay, it’s going to come to me’. He made no mistake.”