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New York Islanders

WINNER! Barzal OT Winner Puts Islanders Up 3-0



Mat Barzal already has a lot of accomplishments on his resume. After Sunday, he can now add playoff overtime goal scorer.

Barzal scored 4:28 into the overtime period to give the New York Islanders a 2-1 win and a 3-0 series lead over the Washington Capitals. The skilled forward took a pass from Jordan Eberle and charged right to the Capitals net.

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Barzal put the puck on his backhand and pushed it past the extended leg of Braden Holtby for the game-winner. The play was looked at briefly by the officials to make sure Barzal had been onsides when he took the pas from Eberle.

“It was actually a great play by the linesman not to call that. I think sometimes they get a little antsy and make the whistle,” Barzal said. “It was tight. I knew it was tight. I run that play a little bit in practice or even in games. Just try to sneak behind the D a little bit and time it perfectly just on the blue line. Great heads up play by Ebs.

“Great touch on the pass. Had that play a few times this year and looked five-hole, looked short side. Decided to take this one far post and it paid off.”

The goal came just after Semyon Varlamov made a pair of saves on Jakub Vrana on the other end of the ice. Vrana got behind the Islanders defense and was able to put two shots on net on a breakaway.

Varlamov had one of his strongest performances of the series in Game 3, turning aside several tough attempts by the Capitals. The New York Islanders starter finished the game with 22 saves.

Rob Simpson: Semyon Varlamov Proving Very Effective Against Caps

“You have a goaltender like Varly back there,” Anders Lee said. “The way he’s seeing the puck right now, kicking out rebounds and it puts a lot of confidence in us in front of him. A lot of credit goes to him and our defensive core for blocking shots and boxing guys out. Not giving them second chances. Those rebounds, those extra pucks. Clearing those out of the way and when things break down in front of him, Varly has really stood really tall.”

The Islanders are the only team in the Eastern Conference with a 3-0 series lead. It is. the 11th time in franchise history that the Islanders have taken a 3-0 lead in a best-of-seven series.

New York continued to limit Washington’s shots on Sunday. The Islanders held the Capitals to 23 shots through the 60-plus minute affair. It was the seventh game this postseason they have held an opponent to under 30 shots in a game.

The Islanders did get off to a quick start on Sunday, but the Capitals responded with plenty of pushback in the second and third periods. Washington took advantage of their second-period power play and went 1-for-2, while the Islanders went 0-for-4 on the man-advantage.

“You knew the team on the other side was going to come hard and they’re loaded,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “We just stayed with it. We got the really timely saves by Varly, especially in the overtime. … We’ve got another level in our game, which is really good to know.”

The New York Islanders scored the game’s opening goal for the first time this series. Adam Pelech made a nice pass from the point to Anders Lee down low for the goa at 14:50 of the first period. The Islanders defenseman faked the shot then sent the puck over to Lee for the redirection.

The goal was Lee’s third of the series. He has scored in all three games against the Capitals in the First Round.

The Islanders lead didn’t last long into the second period after they gave the Capitals an early chance on the power play. Kuznetsov ripped a hard wrist shot from inside the faceoff circle that beat Varlamov.

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New York Islanders

Coach Boychuk? Former Defenseman Helps Coaches During Islanders Practice



Johnny Boychuk

EAST MEADOW, N.Y. — There was a familiar face on the ice at Northwell Ice Center. Johnny Boychuk helped out the New York Islanders coaching staff during Saturday’s practice as the team prepared for Sunday’s game against the New Jersey Devils.

Boychuk ended his 13 year NHL career in November due to an eye injury and was placed on LTIR at the start of this season. Saturday was not Boychuk’s first time on the ice for practice, having worked with the taxi squad players and he had been on the ice at times during training camp.

Boychuk has been seen around the organization publically several times this week. On Monday, the MSG broadcast caught Boychuk sitting next to Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello in a suite at Nassau Coliseum.

His continued presence around the Islanders organization has been a welcomed one by the rest of the team.

“It’s great for us. We love Johnny,” Josh Bailey said after practice. “We’ll take him as much as we can get him. It would have been tough to just more or less go cold turkey and not see him. He’s been such a big part of our dressing room for a long time. To get to have him out on the ice with us and to see him on a daily basis has been really great.”

Additionally, Boychuk had been skating with Mathew Barzal while he and the team sorted out his new contract the first week of training camp.

Josh Bailey became the first Islander to deal head-on with a COVID-related issue this season.

The veteran forward missed a day of practice this week and was briefly on the COVID-protocol list before returning to the lineup the following day. Bailey, along with the rest of the team, has been adhering to the COVID protocols, but potentially came into contact with the virus after his youngest son’s teacher tested positive for COVID-19.

A few days later when Bailey went to check on his son he noticed that he sounded a little sick and had a bit of a cough, the Islanders forward said. They had him tested and it came back positive for the virus.

The result ended up being a false positive and Bailey’s son tested negative twice over the following two days.

“For a couple of days there it was touch and go, but at the same time it all worked out,” Bailey said.

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New York Islanders

BACK AT THE BARN: What It Was Like Being at an Empty Nassau Coliseum for a Game



The New York Islanders home rink of Nassau Coliseum

UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Prior to this week, the last time the New York Islanders had stepped foot on Nassau Coliseum ice was March 7, 2020. While it was only 10 months ago, in retrospect it seems like a lifetime ago.

COVID-19 had only just started to creep into the sports universe. What would transpire a week later wasn’t even imaginable at the time. So there was a sense of familiarity and brief normalcy when I walked into the Coliseum on Monday afternoon for the Islanders home opener against the Boston Bruins.

under normal circumstances, in January I am usually fully engulfed in the Islanders season. Weekends are planned around game and practice coverage, or that odd trip on the road with the Islanders. Instead, the first few months of the traditional hockey season were spent wondering if there would even be hockey games to cover at all.

To say I was looking forward to being at Monday’s game would be an understatement.

Nassau Coliseum exterior Walking into the Nassau Coliseum you were quickly reminded of the current state of the world. Signs about the need to wear a mask at all times inside the building were everywhere, as were Purell hand sanitizing stations. Security checked our temperature at the door and media members and staff entering had to fill out a COVID-19 questionnaire.

It’s a similar procedure for those of us that attend Islanders practices in person, so it had become a sort of second nature.

What was the most jarring thing on Monday was the quiet of the arena. Those of us covering games aren’t allowed into the Coliseum until an hour before game time, which would mean during normal times that the concourse would be bustling with fans and vendors selling overpriced beer and pretzels.

You would move at a snail’s pace trying to walk from the media gate to the press box elevators. Instead, it was a brisk walk onto the concourse and into the inner bowl where they have us set up to watch the games from. If there is any silver lining, then it’s the fact that we’re down a bit lower than where the Coliseum press box is, but I still enjoy watching from above to see how plays develop and get a different angle on the game.

The Islanders tried to keep the game presentation the same as they would if the building had been packed with fans. They blasted the music during warmups and during a stoppage of play — albeit at noticeably lower decibel than previously — pump-up videos were on the video board and goals and penalties were announced by the public address announcer.

Cardboard fans

And they pumped in crowd noise, which wasn’t all that bad and helped keep some figment of a normal game experience. When the Islanders faced the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden, the volume of the crowd noise did not go over so well, but Monday on Long Island, it was done just right.

In fact, on Thursday during the Islanders 4-1 win over New Jersey, the fake crowd noise was almost nonexistent.

To that end, what was the oddest part of the whole experience so far was the emptiness of the Nassau Coliseum. Sure, people have their jokes about how empty the building has been in years past when the team wasn’t doing well, but at its best, the Coliseum is one of the toughest places to play in the NHL

In large part due to the fans that inhabit it. Adjusting to the calm and quiet, except for the music and fake noise, was something that took time.

Through all of the oddities, it was good to be back in an NHL rink.

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New York Islanders

Barzal Dazzles, Drives Isles in Win Over New Jersey | NYHN+



Mathew Barzal

If there were any concerns about Mathew Barzal’s game because of his late arrival to training camp, the 23-year-old has quickly dispelled them with his dominant play on Thursday night.

It was Barzal’s three points (1g, 2a) along with linemate Jordan Eberle’s two goals that pushed the Islanders to a 4-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils at Nassau Coliseum.

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