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STEEL CITY SHOWDOWN: Islanders Lineup, Matchups and Game Notes vs Pens

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New York Islanders Pittsburgh Penguins

The New York Islanders didn’t love the hit that Mike Matheson had on Mathew Barzal in Thursday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, but it doesn’t look like they’re focused on holding a grudge.

The Islanders appeared to be focused more on picking up the win than any sort of retribution when they face Pittsburgh tonight. Pittsburgh defeated the Islanders 4-1 on Thursday at PPG Paints Arena.

It was the third period hit by Matheson that the Islanders took issue with on Thursday. Barzal was playing the puck near the corner and turned when Matheson crosschecked him sending Barzal headfirst into the boards.

The Islanders star said that he was sore for a couple of minutes after the game, but that he was fine.

“I didn’t put myself in a great spot,” Barzal said about the hit. “I never liked the crosscheck to the numbers, but I do feel like I did turn into him a bit and the onus is on me as much as it is on him, but I have to put myself in a better position there.”

While the Islanders don’t appear to be looking for a fight tonight, the hit and the reaction to it highlights the bad blood that is bubbling between the two sides. Tonight’s game will be their fourth meeting this month alone and there are still two more games in the month of February scheduled between New York and Pittsburgh.

The frequent meetings have certainly built up the familiarity and dislike between the two sides.

“We’ve played these guys quite a bit this month,” Casey Cizikas said. “Whenever you play a team that many times you’re going to see games get more chippy, more physical and that’s just the nature of the game. That’s what we love as hockey players is the competitiveness from both teams. We’re going to play hard, we’re going to play physical, but we’re going to be smart at the same time.”

The nastiness started early on Thursday when Casey Cizikas dropped the gloves with Brandon Tanev. The fight stemmed from something that happened in the previous meeting between the Islanders and Penguins.

However, Islanders head coach Barry Trotz isn’t concerned that his squad will let their emotions get the better of them.

“I think the guys recognize those moments. Sometimes emotions can go overboard a little bit and get the better of you,” Trotz said. “But I think for the most part we have a veteran team and I have to trust that the veteran group understands the importance of these four-point games. If you look at the standings tonight is a huge game for both teams.”

The Islanders are two points ahead of Pittsburgh in the East Division Standings and a win would help keep New York in the top four of the division.

To counter a talented Pittsburgh team, the Islanders will have everyone except for Michael Dal Colle available to play tonight. Dal Colle was hurt blocking a shot during the Islanders game in Buffalo on Tuesday.

While Trotz didn’t say who would be in the lineup tonight, he made it sound as though Kieffer Bellows would not get another chance after a rough game on Thursday.

“The season is so short there’s not a lot of room to wait for guys,” Trotz said. “Obviously you’re going to wait for a few of your key guys to get going, but if you’re a fringe player or a depth player or you’re on the taxi squad and you get an opportunity to jump in, you just have to get the job done. There’s not going to be any (leeway). There’s not a long leash there.”

Trotz didn’t say which of his goaltenders would get the start, but Semyon Varlamov is expected to be back in net. Tristian Jarry will get the start for Pittsburgh.

New York Islanders Lineup (Projected)

Anders Lee¬†—¬†Mathew Barzal¬†—¬†Jordan Eberle

Anthony Beauvillier¬†—¬†Brock Nelson¬†—¬†Josh Bailey

Leo Komarov¬†—¬†Jean-Gabriel Pageau¬†—¬†Oliver Wahlstrom

Matt Martin¬†—¬†Casey Cizikas¬†—¬†Cal Clutterbuck

Adam Pelech¬†—¬†Ryan Pulock

Nick Leddy¬†—¬†Scott Mayfield

Andy Greene¬†—¬†Noah Dobson

Semyon Varlamov

Ilya Sorokin

Pittsburgh Penguins Lineup (Projected)

Jake Guentzel¬†—¬†Sidney Crosby¬†—¬†Kasperi Kapanen

Jason Zucker¬†—¬†Evgeni Malkin¬†—¬†Bryan Rust

Zach Aston-Reese¬†—¬†Teddy Blueger¬†—¬†Brandon Tanev

Drew O’Connor¬†—¬†Mark Jankowski¬†—¬†Sam Lafferty

Pierre-Olivier Joseph¬†—¬†Kris Letang

Mike Matheson¬†—¬†John Marino

Marcus Pettersson¬†—¬†Cody Ceci

Tristan Jarry

Casey DeSmith

How to watch

Tonight’s game will air on MSG+ and stream on MSG Go or on NHL.TV outside of the New York market. On the radio dial, the game can be heard on 98.7 FM ESPN New York, 88.7 FM WRHU and 103.9 FM LI News Radio.

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New York Islanders

BARZILLION REASONS TO BE EXCITED: Mathew Barzal Goal Leads to Isles Offensive Explosion

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Mathew Barzal

UNIONDALE, N.Y. —¬†Mathew Barzal still hadn’t seen a clip of the eye-popping goal he scored on Saturday when MSG Network’s Shannon Hogan had asked him to rank it after the game. The Islanders star took a deep breath before saying he’d likely put it at the top, but that he’d need to go back and watch it.

“Don’t worry you will see it all over social media,” the beloved Islanders TV reporter answered back.

There’s no doubt Mathew Barzal will have little trouble trying to find a clip of the play to watch. The goal 3:51 into the second period helped spur the Islanders to a 5-2 win over Buffalo and extend their control of the East Division.

Mathew Barzal masterfully got by defenseman Rasmus Ristolaomem to reach the front of the net and then maneuvered the puck on his stick in a way that only a wizard might be able. All of that occurred before he put the puck through his legs and then past Carter Hutton.

“There’s a lot of instincts and just kind of being in the moment and just reacting,” Barzal said about the play.

While the flash and style of the goal was something to behold, more importantly, what it did was help jumpstart the Islanders after a slower start to the game than they would have liked. The team pushed back on the idea that they had a sluggish start, but regardless the goal from Barzal kicked off an offensive firestorm.

WATCH: Mathew Barzal Posterizes the Buffalo Sabres During Tying Goal

It was less than two minutes later that Nelson gave the Islanders the lead.

“These are hard games. These are playoff games every night,” Islanders head coach Barry Trotz said. “It does muster a lot for players, but events can help. But it comes internally with players. We have a real good locker room and obviously when a guy like Barzy scores a big goal. I thought Scotty Mayfield scored a real big goal for us tonight off a hard work goal.”

The Islanders did successfully have contributions from up and down the lineup, but what helped get them to that point was the play of Barzal at that moment.

“Pretty nice goal I have to say,” Cal Clutterbuck said. “He’s got special ability that’s for sure. Just an all-encompassing goal. A lot of speed, great edgework, great awareness in tight on the goalie. Just a great goal and it gives us a goal and draws us even. Allows us to play our game.”

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New York Islanders

BUFFALO GRILLED: Four Goal Second Leads Islanders to Win Over Sabres

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New York Islanders Win over Buffalo

UNIONDALE, N.Y. —¬†The New York Islanders erased a 1-0 deficit with a four-goal second period on Saturday to defeat the Buffalo Sabres 5-2.

Mathew Barzal’s highlight reel worthy goal kicked the offensive output in the middle frame, which saw Brock Nelson, Cal Clutterbuck and Scott Mayfield also find the back of the net during the second period. The Islanders’ four goals in that period came on just nine shots against Buffalo, which was limited to only five in the second.

“Barzy scoring that goal and the way he did it that lit a little bit of fire in us,” Anders Lee said. “We knew we played a solid first. I think they just jumped on us in that first shift and we kind of stuck to our game. Nelly followed that up, great play from Beau, and Casey and Clutter’s line. I think we just had a flurry after that and kind of stuck with it the rest of the night.”

The New York Islanders have defeated Buffalo in eight straight meetings, as well as eight consecutive games on home ice. Saturday was the second game in a row that the Isles defeated Buffalo by a score of 5-2.

New York has outscored Buffalo 19-7 through five games against one another this season.

“Sometimes you have periods that are like that, sometimes we have better periods and they don’t go in,” Clutterbuck said about the second. “Just have to stick with it and trust that once and a while you’re going to have those periods.”

The Islanders win helps extend their hold on first place in the East Division, pulling two points ahead of the Washington Capitals and three points ahead of the Boston Bruins. New York took possession of the division on Friday night after Washington fell to Boston 5-1.

Semyon Varlamov made 20 saves in his 11th win of the year.

Barzal’s SportsCenter Top 10 worthy goal came 3:51 into the second period. The New York Islanders star was able to beat Rasmus Ristolainen and then stickhandle the puck in front of the net before putting it past Carter Hutton, who made 24 saves in the loss for Buffalo.

The goal helped extend Barzal’spoint streak to three games.

“I mean it all happened pretty quick,” Barzal said about the goal. “I know he’s coming over to play me there and it’s kind of a rolling puck, so I just tried to put it to an area that he can’t get his stick on or something. Once I Knew I Kind of had body position I kind of felt him a little off balance. Took it to the net and I knew we were so far ahead of the play that I probably had a little bit of time.

“It’s kind of a move you do instinctually and kind of just mess around with it in practice.”

Less than two minutes later Nelson broke the short-lived tie with his seventh goal of the year. A wrist shot from the slot beat Hutton over his shoulder to put the Islanders ahead 2-1.

The onslaught continued at the 8:45 mark of the second when Clutterbuck scored from the slot to put the Islanders ahead by two. A cross-ice pass from Adam Pelech to Matt Martin hit off Martin’s skate and then went right to his stick, where he was able to quickly feed Clutterbuck down low.

The final goal of the second period came at 15:29 when Mayfield scored off a cross-ice pass from Casey Cizikas to make it 4-1.

Buffalo did cut the Islanders’ lead back down to two when Sam Reinhart scored 52 seconds into the third period, but Anders put the Islanders back ahead by three with his team-leading 11th goal of the year at 2:15 of the final period.

Saturday’s win was the fourth time this season that the Islanders have won after giving up the game’s first goal.

Buffalo was first to jump on the board on Saturday afternoon. Jacob Bryson flung the puck at the net from the half-wall and the shot got by Varlamov 33 seconds into the game.

The goal was Bryson’s first in the NHL.

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New York Islanders

WATCH: Mathew Barzal Posterizes the Buffalo Sabres During Tying Goal

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Mathew Barzal

UNIONDALE, N.Y. —¬†Mathew Barzal showed why he is the New York Islanders star player on Saturday afternoon.

The 23-year-old had the goal of the year to tie the game at one at 3:51 of the second period. The Buffalo Sabres couldn’t hold the puck in the Isles end and Barzal was able to chase down the loose puck into the Buffalo Sabers end.

Mathew Barzal masterfully outmaneuvered Rasmus Ristolainen to get to the front of the net, where Barzal then showed off his puckhandling skills to beat Buffalo netminder Carter Hutton and tie the game. The goal was Barzal’s ninth of the season and he picked up his team-leading 21st point of the year.

The goal helped kick off a four-goal second period for the Islanders. They led Buffalo 4-1 when the second period had come to a close.

The Islanders forward has lived up to his end of the bargain this season after signing a three-year, $21 million contract extension in January. Barzal has become part of a youth movement on Long Island, with the success of rookie Oliver Wahlstrom and Noah Dobson.

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