Mathew Barzal had just scored a huge goal for the New York Islanders.
With just under two minutes to play in the second period, he came in on a 2-on-1 with Bo Horvat and beat Antti Raanta with a wrist shot to regain the Islanders two-goal lead heading into the third period in a win-or-go-home Game 5 on the road versus the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena.
It was a shot he didn't want to take.
"He [Horvat] was on his off side too; I wanted him so bad," Barzal told MSGNetworks Alan Fuehring during the intermission report. Barzal is a playmaker first and sometimes second; he enjoys setting up his teammates with a great pass more than lighting the lamp himself. Coming in on that 2-on-1, his first thought was to get the puck to Horvat, a player that the team needs desperately to get going and a linemate that Barzal has struggled to regain chemistry with this postseason.
"You can just try to read the play," Barzal said postgame via The Hockey News. "Bo (Horvat) is a one-timer, so I always say, anytime you can get a guy with his goalscoring ability the puck in that situation, it's a good chance, but I thought Burns did a good job of taking the pass away, so it forced me to shoot,..just picked a spot."
It forced him to shoot and it was the difference in the game.
Barzal was a reluctant shooter, something that he's been throughout his career, even after stretches of games where he scores with regularity as he did in five straight games in the regular season. However, Game 5 was still a positive sign in that while he was thinking of passing first, he didn't force it. He took what Burns gave him and let loose a shot we know he has and probably should see more often - as long as there isn't a great pass to be made.