The New York Islanders needed a win and their best player stepped up to the plate.
Mathew Barzal recorded his third career hat trick and tied a career-best five-point night (three goals, two assists) to lead the Islanders to an 8-4 win over the Washington Capitals. Brazal’s first goal of the night served as the go-ahead goal in the first period and his second goal of the night helped put some space between his Islanders and Washington.
The Islanders star player capped the night by batting a puck out of the air to complete the hat trick at 18:54 of the third period.
“What I likeed about his play tonight, and he got rewarded for it, is he played the right way,” Islanders head coach Barry Trotz said. “He moved the puck, got it back. He got open. He went to the hard areas. He drove the net. He got to the slot. He didn’t try to do it by himself. He trusted his teammates, but he was skating. He had lots of juice tonight.”
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) April 2, 2021
Barzal also had a hand in both of his linemate, Jordan Eberle’s, two goals on Thursday as well.
“I think aside from my three, and I think with Ebs too, I think we were just playing good hockey all night,” Barzal said. “I think we probably could have had even two or three more. Just seemed like every time we got the puck we were making clean breakouts. Clean rushes and just finding each other. … When guys are playing to their strengths that’s when the line goes.”
All in all, five different Islanders scored in Thursday’s win over Washington. Casey Cizikas, Brock Nelson and Josh Bailey also scored in the win, and Semyon Varlamov made 18 stops for New York.
The eight goals on Thursday for the Islanders was a new season-high and the win was the first time New York had defeated Washington this season. The two sides will play four more times this month, with three more left at the Nassau Coliseum.
The victory moved the Islanders into a tie with Washington for the top spot in the East Division.
“We just wanted to come out with a good effort,” Josh Bailey said. “I thought we did that for the most part. Obviously, they got one early and we just kept sticking with it. We were able to capitalize on our chances tonight. … It’s a good win, but you get ready to move on. It’s going to come at us quick here with a lot of games.”
Three different players scored for Washington, who had to use both goaltenders against the Islanders. Less than a minute into the game, starter Ilya Samsonov was knocked out behind his own net by his own teammate and forced to go to the dressing room. Vitek Vanecek came into the game and played 16:26 before Samsonov returned to the game.
The scoring onslaught began 1:01 into the first period when Washington found the back of the net first. John Carlson scored his first goal of the game off a feed in the high slot that beat Varlamov to give Washington the early lead.
It had been the fifth consecutive game the Islanders had given up the game’s first goal.
The New York Islanders evened the score moments later when Eberle finished on an impressive sequence. Barzal took the puck into the offensive zone and gave it over to Leo Komarov, who set up Eberle with a crisp cross-ice pass for the goal.
Barzal gave the Islanders a 2-1 lead at 16:09 when he went end to end, weaving through four Washington defenders, to beat Vitek Vanecek. The play was just the latest in a series of impressive goals that Barzal has scored this season.
“I picked it up deep and I knew two of their guys were in battles with our D men,” Barzal said of the goal. “Just had a little bit of a step and just try to be aggressive. I felt like I had some ice that I took advantage of. That’s it.”
MAT BARZAL GOES COAST TO COAST
Beauty 😍😍😍 pic.twitter.com/0n0YWyPdcX
— Isles on MSG+ (@IslesMSGN) April 1, 2021
Nelson made it 3-1 when he scored just over a minute later, but Daniel Sprong kept Washington within one when he found the back of the net at 17:54 of the first. Barzal gave the Islanders some breathing room when he scored his second of the game off a turnaround shot.
Eberle sent the puck through the goalmouth to Barzal, who spun around and then fired the puck by Samsonov.
Cizikas scored off a hustle play to give the Islanders a 5-2 lead 3:03 into the second period. After Cal Clutterbuck forced a turnover behind the Washington net, Cizikas picked up the loose puck and jammed it on net until it flipped over the netminder and in for the goal.
T.J. Oshie cut the Washington deficit to two when he deflected the puck past Varlamov. A shot from Alex Ovechkin was stopped by the Isles netminder, but the rebound hit off Oshie and bounced back into the net for the power-play goal at 6:47 of the second.
The New York Islanders regained their three-goal lead later in the period after they capitalized on a two-on-one rush. Barzal was able to feed Eberle on the odd-man rush for his second goal of the night at 8:07 of the middle frame.
Carlon recorded his second of the game with just under a minute left in the second period to make it a 6-4 game, but Josh Bailey scored 3:13 into the third to make it 7-4.