Islanders Top 3 Players of the Week: Mathew Barzal shines in great week

Florida Panthers v New York Islanders
Florida Panthers v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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Throughout the week of October 23rd, the NY Islanders went 3-1 in four games. On Sunday night when the blue and orange traveled to Florida to take on the Florida Panthers, they came up just short, losing to the Panthers 3-2.

Following the loss, the Islanders arguably picked up their biggest win of the week. On Wednesday, the Islanders welcomed their cross-town rivals the NY Rangers to the UBS Arena for the first "Battle of New York" of the season. The Islanders weren't only able to beat the Rangers, but they shut them out, winning the game 3-0.

The Islanders continued to build their momentum on Friday when they traveled to North Carolina to take on the Carolina Hurricanes. The Islanders showed up to play against the projected No.1 team in the east and got the job done as they left Carolina with a dominating win, 5-2.

Finally, on Saturday night the Islanders traveled back home to welcome the reigning Stanley Cup Champions, the Colorado Avalanche, to the UBS Arena. The Avalanche came into the season having won the Stanley Cup in six games against the former back-to-back Stanley Cup winners, the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Whereas the Islanders arguably picked up their most important win the previous Wednesday, Saturday was their most impressive game of the season against the Avalanche. After finding themselves down 3-0 halfway through the second period, the Islanders were able to put together a massive comeback to defeat the reigning Stanley Cup champions, 5-4.

After going 3-1 last week, the Islanders have brought their record back up above .500. They are 5-4-0 on the season, and have shown a ton of promise in the early going. Let's take a look at the top three players of the week who helped lead the Islanders in their impressive week.

New York Rangers v New York Islanders
New York Rangers v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

⭐️⭐️⭐️ Ilya Sorokin

Ilya Sorokin started in two games last week for the Islanders making his presence felt majorly in both games. Against their cross-town rivals, Sorokin shut out the Rangers in the Islanders' 3-0 win. The 27-year-old goaltender finished the game with 41 saves on 41 shot attempts for a perfect save percentage.

He was outstanding. He's gained confidence, he's gained so much in the time he's been here, period.
Lane Lambert on Ilya Sorokin's shut out

It wasn't easy by any means as the Rangers' offense can be explosive at times. While the Rangers threatened on multiple opportunities throughout the game, the Islanders stood tall, and more importantly, Sorokin stood taller in the net and was a brick wall the entire night.

The second game that Sorokin played came two nights later when the Islanders traveled to Carolina. While it wasn't a shutout, the Islanders, and more importantly Sorokin, played incredibly well. The Hurricanes were held to just two goals on the night due to the Islanders' relentless forecheck, but also large in part to the play of Sorokin.

Their goalie played really well, I give him a lot of credit. But their team game, I think they played their best game in the [five] years I've been [coaching] against them. By far the best game they've played.
Rod Brind'Amour on the Islanders

Sorokin finished the game in Carolina with just two goals allowed on 35 shot attempts making 33 saves, accruing a save percentage of .943%. Despite the goals allowed, it was a downright incredible performance against a team like Carolina which is known for making teams pay with their high octane offense and an offense that not only knows how to move the puck around well but can put it on net too.

New York Rangers v New York Islanders
New York Rangers v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

⭐️⭐️ Josh Bailey

It's time to give Josh Bailey credit where it's due. Bailey absolutely killed it last week and had quite the milestone week as well for himself and the Islanders as a whole.

First and foremost, we at Eyes on Isles would like to congratulate Josh Bailey on his 1,000th game with the Islanders. Bailey is only the third player to achieve such a feat. Besides Denis Potvin and Bryan Trottier, Bailey is now the third Islander to reach 1,000 games played with the blue and orange.

On Wednesday against the Rangers, Bailey picked up his first goal of the season early in the third period. The goal not only extended the Islanders' lead to 2-0 but also finally got Bailey on the board in the point column in the new campaign. However, Friday night in Carolina was really where his milestone was hit.

Bailey's goal turned out to be the game-winning goal against the top team in the Eastern Conference. With around three minutes left in the second period, off a forced turnover by Alexander Romanov, and a beautiful assist by Barzal, Bailey was able to find the back of the net, giving the Islanders the 3-2 lead in Carolina.

For Josh, it's fun to see that. You can't write it any better, him getting the game-winner. Huge part of the franchise and this team, so well deserved.
Brock Nelson

While the game in Carolina marked Bailey's 1,000th game, it was made much more special by scoring a highlight reel, game-winning goal. Bailey gets a lot of hate from the fans, sometimes rightfully so, but when he's good, he's good. Bailey has become a cornerstone of the Islanders whether a lot of fans like it or not.

Florida Panthers v New York Islanders
Florida Panthers v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

⭐️ Mathew Barzal

Arguably, nobody on the Islanders had a bigger week than Mathew Barzal. Barzal picked up a point in every game last week and was a big reason why the team did as well as they did. On Sunday in the loss to the Panthers, Barzal was able to find Lee twice for a goal each time, picking up two power play assists.

The center's play rolled over into Wednesday night as well when Barzal was able to find Bailey for a goal to give the Islanders the lead over the Rangers, 2-0. On Friday against the Hurricanes Barzal continued to make his presence felt on the score sheet.

Barzal fed Oliver Wahlstrom on a beautiful pass to put the Islanders on the board, but that wasn't all. Barzal also found Bailey for what would turn out to be the game-winning goal, giving the Islanders the 3-2 lead. Barzal picked up two assists on the night against Carolina and continued to impress with his skating and puck handling.

"Barzy,' when he gets the puck, you're just trying to find open ice. He curled up and the timing worked out well. I was able to put a good move on him and put it in the back of the net.
Josh Bailey

Against the Avalanche, Barzal continued to get on the score sheet to round out the week. Barzal took over the game on a shift where he found Scott Mayfield to tie the game up at three, after being down, 3-0. On the season now, Barzal has yet to pick up a goal but has 10 points on 10 helpers.

With the week that the Islanders had, they have improved their record to 5-4-0 on the season. It puts them in a much better spot with still a lot of the season left to be played. The Islanders had a strong week last week, one that if it went sideways, it really could have plummeted their outlook moving forward. Thanks to the three stars of the week, the Islanders are building momentum toward looking like their former 2020-21 selves.