UNIONDALE, N.Y. — How many chances did the Boston Bruins have to draft Mathew Barzal in 2015? Three.
What was the number goal for the Islanders that Mathew Barzal scored on Saturday night? The Isles’ third in the third period. It all seems to tie together. Joking aside, Barzal’s third-period goal broke a 2-2 tie and served as the game-winner in Saturday’s 4-2 win over Boston.
What was mystifying about the play was not that Barzal was left open like that on the man advantage. Rather, it was the fact that Boston gave him that much room to work for the second time in the same spot during that same sequence.
Just seconds earlier, Anders Lee made a herculean effort to hold the puck in along the blue line and then dig it down deep. It allowed Barzal to steal the puck from Rask and for the Islanders to set up in the offensive zone.
Noah Dobson was eventually able to fire a hefty shot on Rask that was turned aside, but the rebound went to Mathew Barzal, who had been left uncovered near the left faceoff circle. His shot attempt missed the net and wrapped around back to the point.
At that point, you would have thought that Barzal would have been picked up by someone with the puck remaining in the zone. Instead, three Boston players collapsed in on Nelson near the wall and the fourth stuck tight to Anders Lee, who had been parked near the net.
The puck gets to Eberle and then to Lee. Still, no one had picked up Barzal. What happened next you already know.
The goal gave the Islanders the 3-2 lead early in the third and the Isles held onto, with Jean-Gabriel Pageau even adding a shorthanded goal later in the game. It extended Barzal’s point streak to eight games, which is a new career-high for the Islanders star player.
“During this eight-game run (Barzal) has been our best player offensively for a while,” Islanders head coach Barry Trotz said. “He’s creating. I love the fact that he’s taking the puck to the net. Using his speed and his skill. Today I was glad he produced on the power play. He’s shooting the puck more and he’s getting results.”
Saturday will certainly serve as a reminder to Boston not to give Barzal that much room the next time the two teams meet.