It’s a play that Mat Barzal has worked on before.
So When the situation came up on Sunday, he executed it to perfection. Almost four and a half minutes into overtime of game three against the Capitals on Sunday in Toronto, the Islanders forward straddled the blueline as he took a pass from Jordan Eberle before making a move to beat Washington goalie Braden Holtby inside the far post to give the Islanders a 2-1 victory and a three games to none series lead.
The play did go to video review but it was ruled a goal and now the Islanders can finish off a four-game sweep on Tuesday with a win in game four. Barzal breathed a sigh of relief that the play wasn’t initially whistled for an offsides so that he could finish off his first career Stanley Cup Playoff overtime goal at 4:28 of OT.
“It was actually a great play by the linesman not to call that,” said Barzal. “I think sometimes they get a little antsy and (blow) the whistle. “I knew it was tight but I run that play a little bit in practice or even in games to just try to sneak behind the (defense) a little bit and time it perfectly just on the blueline.”
And that’s exactly what Barzal did as he took the feed from Eberle. From there, he had a decision to make as he skated in on Holtby and decided to try something different.
“A great heads up play by Ebs,” said Barzal. “Just a great touch on the pass. I’ve had that play a few times this year and looked five hole or look short but I decided to take this one far post and it paid off.”
Series Schedule (Islanders lead 3-0)
Game 1: Wednesday August 20th…Islanders 4 Capitals 2
Game 2: Friday August 14th…Islanders 5 Capitals 2
Game 3: Sunday August 16th…Islanders 2 Capitals 1 (OT)
Game 4: Tuesday August 18th…Capitals at Islanders…8pm
Game 5: Thursday August 20th…Islanders at Capitals…TBD (If necessary)
Game 6: Saturday August 22nd…Capitals at Islanders…TBD (If necessary)
Game 7: Sunday August 23rd…Islanders at Capitals…TBD (If necessary)
The Islanders opened the scoring at 14:50 of the first period when defenseman Adam Pelech, on his 26th birthday, set up Captain Anders Lee for a tip-in on a brilliant pass. Lee had some room near the front of the net and tapped his stick on the ice multiple times to get Pelech’s attention. The birthday boy skated in from the blueline and from the top of the left circle found Lee at the far post.
“Whenever the puck goes side to side, as a defenseman you’re always looking back door,” said Pelech. “A guy like Leesy plants himself there and he’s tough to move so that’s always your first look as a defenseman. He put himself in a great spot and all I had to do was get it there for him.”
And Pelech calmly sent the puck through a narrow lane to Lee who tapped it in to give the Isles a 1-0 lead.
“It was just a great look,” said Lee. “(Pelly) had his head up the whole way and saw that opening there. “I gave him a little bit of a yell. I think that helps sometimes and sometimes you gotta be careful too because that can draw some coverage. (Pelly) made just a hell of an effort and just a great play for me there.”
The efforts of Adam Pelech, Anders Lee, Jordan Eberle and Mat Barzal combined for two brilliant goals that puts the Islanders on the verge of a second straight trip to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Both goals came five on five as the Islanders continue to dominate the Capitals at even strength.