– by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief
NEWARK, NJ — New York Islanders coach Barry Trotz admitted after Friday’s game that, during an overtime session, his mood about having Matthew Barzal on the ice during the 3-on-3 session depends on whether the young star has the puck in his possession or not. Let’s just say that, after today’s game, Trotz’s disposition at the moment can be described as sunny.
Barzal scored on a rebound with 1:20 remaining in overtime to lift the Islanders to a 4-3 overtime victory over the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on Friday, snapping a two-game losing streak. New York never trailed in the game, but needed Barzal’s breakaway goal late in the game to recover from New Jersey tying the game in the dying seconds of regulation.
New York came into the game allowing 16 goals in the last three games, the most recent result a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of the New York Rangers.
“I liked our game,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “There was more skin in the battle than we’ve had in the last couple games. We would have liked to have gone through the 60 minutes without giving up the late goal, but I liked our response. I’ve been complaining about a sag after a goal and we didn’t have that. We were hard and on track, doing the things I like.”
Barzal received a pass from Brock Nelson that sprung him alone on goal against Devils goalkeeper Keith Kindaid, and after his first attempt was saved, Barzal’s rebound on the backhand gave the Isles the two points.
“That’s a [line change] by us where everyone that’s going has to be smart, and so credit to [Eberle] who he came off there and got me on the ice and [Nelson] stood tall at the blue line,” Barzal said. “I thought that was one of our best games in a while.”
New York thought it had the two points in the bag in regulation after defenseman Nick Leddy went on a buccaneering coast-to-coast jaunt to score with 7:15 remaining to give the Islanders 3-2 lead. However, with the net empty for the Devils, they scored with 10.2 seconds remaining to tie the game, when Marcus Johansson batted home a rebound from mid-air after Taylor Hall’s muffed slap shot turned out to be the perfect pass to Johansson down low.
“It’s always big scoring with 10 seconds left to tie the game,” Johansson said. “I wish we had a different outcome but unfortunately we didn’t. It was good of us to battle back.”