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Plus/Minus: Barzal’s Big Night Propels Islanders Over Capitals

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Islanders-Capitals

Well, that escalated quickly for the New York Islanders.

Down 1-0 after one shot, the Islanders stormed back for a decisive 8-4 win over the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night at Nassau Coliseum.

Mathew Barzal stole the show with a trio of highlight worthy goals in his third NHL hat trick. The offense was clicking in New York’s first win over Washington since the 2020 playoffs.

Let’s take a look at the good and the bad from this one.

Barzy Party 

When Anders Lee went down, so to did Barzal’s productivity on the first line. But over the past few games, Barzal has found a groove and put on a show against Washington.

He collected five overall points in this one, a season high and his second multi-point effort over the last three games. Any of his three goals could be someone’s favorite, but the prototypical Barzal goal was the first one.

Using his speed and puck skills, he went end to end on an individual rush and weaved through the defense before ripping a goal up high.

He ended his night with a goal in the third period, batting a goal out of midair past Ilya Samsonov. On Opening Day for baseball, it was a fitting end to the game. His linemate, Jordan Eberle, also potted two.

“It seemed like every time we got the puck, we were making clean breakouts, clean rushes and just finding each other,” Barzal said. “When guys are playing to their strengths, that’s when the line goes.”

Taking advantage of chances 

In their last game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Islanders only scored once and missed a few opportunities. This time that, didn’t feel like the case.

The skated away with 17 total high danger chances while yielding just six. The score reflected the disparity and the Islanders won handedly. At 5-on-5, they held slightly over 51 percent of the chances, but it was in the slot and in front of the net where the Islanders dominated.

“We were able to get a forecheck, we were able to get sustain some offensive zone time” Barry Trotz said. “I thought our net presence was really good in the offensive zone, we did a real good job of being committed to that area.”

Uncle Leo? 

Do you want to know who led the Islanders in Corsi For on Thursday? It was the veteran — and current first liner — Leo Komarov at a whopping 77.27 percent at 5-on-5. He was second on the team with a 95.16 expected goals for percentage, which is incredibly high.

He did get on the scoresheet too, recording a primary assist on a great feed to set up Eberle’s first goal. For his efforts, he garnered a third star of the night.

Minus

Shaky defense, goaltending 

It was a track meet for most of the night, and the Islanders did get the better end of the race. But Washington scored on its very first shot on goal and pulled within two in the third period.

It definitely was not Semyon Varlamov’s best night in net, as he gave up four goals on 22 shots. Generally, the Islanders are at their best when it’s tight, clean game. They got the win this time, but it felt like a reversal of that.

Penalty kill woes 

The Islanders have had their issues containing Washington’s power play and that held true again Thursday. In one attempt, the Capitals cashed in, albeit with a bit of luck.

Alex Ovhechkin ripped a shot from his office on the left side and it caromed off T.J. Oshie’s skate and into the vacant part of the net.

Special teams can be so make or break in a tight race, and as the Islanders and Washington meet more this month, those moments could be important in determining who wins the East division.

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