The scary thing about Mathew Barzal is that he may just be gaining steam.
Any time the New York Islanders play these days, it turns into Barzal Watch (in the Twitter world: #BarzalWatch). Even if the Islanders had plummeted as of late with five losses in their past six games heading into Monday, many are just tuning in to see what the dynamic rookie is going to do.
Indeed, Barzal has been lights this season, with 44 points in 44 games prior to Monday and coming off the buzz of a five-point game on Saturday — the second time he’s done that this season.
But John Tavares, who had just one goal in nine games coming into Monday, stole some of that spotlight back with a shorthanded goal in regulation and then the game-winner in overtime in a 5-4 victory over the Montreal Canadiens.
Tavares second of the game came 1:51 into over time and after Carey Price made quite the save to stop a redirected attempt by Tavares just before the latter scored the winner.
Barzal was at it again early in the first period as the Islanders jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead.
Barzal fed Anthony Beauvillier with a nice lead pass and the latter ripped home his eighth of the season just down the road from where he grew up in Sorel-Tracy, Quebec, beating Carey Price with New York’s first shot of the game.
It was Barzal’s 30th assist of the season and he followed that up with his 16th goal of the year on the Islanders just over five minutes later for the two-goal advantage. Barzal finished with three points and now has 10 in his past three games.
The Canadiens entered the game 2-0-1 in their past three games but were without Phillip Danault due to a puck to the head on Saturday and Andrew Shaw, who was injured in the same game.
Despite their recent success, things looked grim early on, with Price allowing two goals on four shots.
The Hab battled back, first by forcing a turnover in New York’s zone, allowing Jakub Jerabek to quickly find a wide open Nicolas Deslauriers out front to make it 2-1.
Another defensive breakdown by the Isles led to the tying goal as Paul Byron snatched his 12th of the year on a rebound.
Barzal grabbed his third point of the night early in the second period as the Isles restored the lead with Adam Pelech‘s first of the season at 2:37. And the Islanders led by two for the second time as John Tavares scored shorthanded 1:59 later on New York’s 10th shot.
The Canadiens, down two again, needed a second comeback and they put it together beginning with Jonathan Drouin‘s marker with 34 seconds left in the second period.
Montreal completed the comeback on the power play in the third, with Max Pacioretty scoring his 14th at 13:01.