The New York Islanders needed star Mathew Barzal to step up and be the dominant player everyone knows he is. He took a step in the right direction in Game 3 with his first playoff goal. But there was still another step for him to take.
With two points in Game 4, he took that step. Barzal picked up a primary assist on Kyle Palmieri‘s opening goal and then literally batted in the game-winning goal 13 minutes into the third period.
Mathew Barzal stars for New York Islanders in Game 4
Barzal would end the game with a 2.73 game score. Well above the next highest score (Jordan Eberle at 2.04). This was as dominant as we’ve ever seen Barzal in these playoffs. Maybe we owe David Krejci a debt of gratitude for his “cup check” on Barzal halfway through the second period?
That incident clearly left number 13 incensed.
"Quick aside here. That was a spear by David Krejci. Clear as day. The fact that the on-ice officials called it a minor is embarassing. You can look at the NHL Rule book (section 62.1) to see the official language on spearing. Making contact with an opponent with a spear carries a 5 minute major and a game misconduct. At minimum."
It clearly put a fie in his belly that carried over into well after the final whistle on the Isles 4-1 win. Look how pumped he is after being named the first star of the game!
Matt and I have said it before, the Isles go the way Barzal goes. Tonight Barzal was the star of the show and the Islanders shined to level the series at 2-2.
Other notable performances
Kyle Palmieri: He and Barzal only shared the ice for 1:42 of 5on5 time but were able to create 1 high-danger chance that found the back of the net. In the second round, Palmieri now has four points in three games. He may not have been productive in the regular season, but the 2021 trade deadline acquisition is showing his value now.
Jean-Gabriel Pageau: Just another epic performance from Pageau today. Sure, he picks up an empty-net goal but his play away from the puck was perfection. Not to mention how good we was in the faceoff circle. He went 9/16 against Bergeron today (56%). That makes Bergeron 11/36 (31%) against 44 since Game 2.