Back-to-backs wins. The wins might not ultimately matter for the New York Islanders who are out of the playoffs, but it sure beats ending the season on a losing streak.
Picking up two wins over a playoff-bound team is even better. The Isles haven't really been any good against the better teams in the NHL. Sure, the Caps didn't have Alex Ovechkin in the lineup but that's really all they were missing in terms of top-end talent. The rest of the Caps squad was out there trying to win (I think) and the Isles sunk them 9-2 over both legs.
Focusing on yesterday's win here are three takeaways.
New York Islanders three takeaways from 5-1 win over Capitals
Power play is powerful
Three power-play goals. In one game. That has never happened under Barry Trotz. Twice in a game, sure. Happened a bunch. Three times? Never.
The Isles went 3/5 for a 60% efficiency on the night. Barzal as the chief creator and Noah Dobson QB'ing the whole thing was exceptionally effective opening up two scoring chances for Nelson and Lee five minutes apart in the opening period. Two chances that both snipers converted on.
Add a Kyle Palmieri goal later in the third and the Isles power play was absolutely dominant over the Capitals on the day.
The passing was done with pace and purpose. Zone entries, for the most part, were done cleanly, and when a high-danger chance opened up they capitalized.
Islanders fans have been waiting a while to see the power-play be at least competent, last night we saw it dominate.
Don't get too carried away
"The Isles beat a playoff team. Twice! We aren't that bad!" Hold up. Right? The Isles won and won big but we shouldn't get carried away.
Mathew Barzal spoke about how this core is still competitive after the game, and while that's certainly true how competitive is the question.
(To be fair, the Capitals didn't really seem up for it on Thursday.)
There's a good team here but that good team still needs to become a great team. There are a bunch of good teams in the NHL but few great ones. The Islanders have quality, we already know that. But they need more to reach the heights we now expect. We can't get carried away after these two wins. They did just lose five immediately before this.
Barzal flashes skill
Three primary assists for Barzal on the night. That was his second-most productive night of the year. He also hit three points back on December 30 against the Sabres.
Last night we saw what Mathew Barzal does best; opens up the ice for his teammates and hits them with some of the best dishes in the league. Specifically that pass he made for Brock Nelson's opening goal on the night. What a play.
He also showed off why forechecking is so important. Pressing deep in the Caps zone Barzal forces Nick Jensen out from behind his own net. Barzal's aggressiveness and speed cause Jensen to slip up and create an opening for Barzal to strip him of the puck and feed Bailey who walks in and scores thanks to a few silky smooth moves.
Barzal was at his absolute best last night. It is possible to see him be dominant on the ice in this system. Hopefully, the Islanders can pick up the right support for him in the offseason and we can see more of this in 2022-23.