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New York Islanders

WINNER! Barzal OT Winner Puts Islanders Up 3-0

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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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Bridgeport Sound Tigers

He’s Back! Josh Ho-Sang Returns to Islanders on 1-Year Deal

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Josh Ho-Sang

If you thought Josh Ho-Sang’s time with the New York Islanders was over, guess again.

The Islanders and Josh Ho-Sang came to terms on a 1-year contract extension on Tuesday and avoided an arbitration hearing which had been scheduled for Friday. The short-term deal is worth $700,000 if he plays in the NHL and $200,000 if he ends up in Bridgeport, according to Elliotte Friedman who first reported the news on Tuesday morning.

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Ho-Sang has had a rocky history with the Islanders since the organization drafted him 29th overall in 2014. The now 24-year-old forward has struggled to crack the Islanders lineup and his outspoken nature has often caused himself headaches.

Josh Ho-Sang requested a trade last season and was told by Islanders general manager not to report to AHL Bridgeport while they worked to find a place to send him. The naturally skilled forward did end up reporting to Bridgeport after the Islanders failed to move him and they eventually loaned Ho-Sang to St. Louis’ AHL team in San Antonio.

Ho-Sang has appeared in 53 NHL games with the Islanders and registered seven goals and 17 assists in that span.

Both the Islanders decision to send Ho-Sang a qualifying offer and then Ho-Sang’s decision to file for arbitration surprised many people. Lamoriello sounded perplexed several weeks ago when he was asked about it during a media conference call on Zoom.

“I’m sure you’re all aware that he filed for arbitration, which I was very surprised at,” Lamoriello said at the time. “We’ll have to see what the future brings.”

It’s unclear what role the Islanders envision for Ho-Sang going into next season.

In addition, the Islanders also announced that A.J. Greer had signed a one-year contract as well. Greer was acquired from the Colorado Avalanche in a trade that saw the Islanders send Kyle Burroughs to the Mile High City.

Greer had been a restricted free agent.

Fellow RFA defensemen Mitch Vande Sompel and Parker Wotherspoon signed two-year contract extensions on Tuesday as well.

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Free Agency

What Will Mat Barzal’s Next Contract Look Like? | NYHN+

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Mat Barzal of the New York Islanders

It is the question that is on every New York Islanders fans’ mind. When will Mat Barzal be re-signed by the Islanders and what will that contract look like?

The 23-year-old Islanders star is due for a pay raise and the team is under a major cap crunch at the moment with just $8.9 million left for next season to work with to re-sign Barzal, fellow restricted free agent Ryan Pulock and possibly some unrestricted free agents. The NHL’s flat salary cap for the foreseeable future also throws a rather unique twist into the already complicated Barzal equation.

Right now the Islanders priority is clearing cap space so that they can work out a deal with Barzal. As has been reported here and various other outlets, Johnny Boychuk, Nick Leddy, Andrew Ladd and Leo Komarov are all contracts that could be moved to free up space.

The Case for the New York Islanders to Sign Anthony Duclair

All of those carry a sizable cap hit and general manager Lou Lamoriello needs to clear at least one or two of those to have some wiggle room to work. That is what has held up the rest of the Islanders offseason plans, including re-signing their most valuable piece.

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Hockey Night in New York

PODCAST: Taking Your New York Islanders Questions

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New York Islanders podcast Hockey Night in New York

In addition to covering the New York Islanders here at NYI Hockey Now, I co-host a weekly radio show and podcast called Hockey Night in New York, with Sean Cuthbert. The show airs live every Sunday night at 9 p.m. and is available on all major podcast platforms immediately after the show ends.

This week on Hockey Night in New York, Sean and I took listener questions on everything from the depth of the prospect pool in Bridgeport to should the New York Islanders look at breaking up the “best fourth line in hockey.”

You can subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts here or follow us on Spotify here.

Welcome to your new home for New York Islanders breaking news, analysis and opinion. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and don't forget to subscribe to NYHN+ for all of our members-only content from Christian Arnold and the National Hockey Now network.
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