3 Stars for Thursday in the NHL: featuring the 5-point Barzal Barrage
1. Mathew Barzal, New York Islanders
Early on after Barry Trotz took over as Islanders head coach, there were fascinating (and sometimes furious) debates about how good these Isles teams really were. But even the most pedantic person couldn’t argue against the entertainment value of Mathew Barzal, himself.
Well, the Islanders look great in the eyes ranging from old-school to new-fangled, and Barzal just keeps getting more dynamic.
Barzal generated a hat trick plus two assists for a five-point game as the Islanders handed the Capitals the double-take score of Thursday night in the NHL (8-4). Usually, it’s the Avalanche doing that.
To make Barzal’s five-point night even more impressive, all three of his hat trick goals ruled.
First, Barzal deked and dangled through helpless Caps defensemen to score his first goal of the night. Then, he beat Ilya Samsonov from an improbable angle for goal two. Finally, to make sure his hat trick featured serious variety, Barzal scored that third goal (and hit five points) with some serious hand-eye coordination.
Speaking of coordination, doing so on Opening Day in the MLB almost feels a bit on the nose.
Check out Barzal’s hat trick, as part of his five points, in the highlights of the night for Thursday in the NHL.
2. Jordan Eberle, New York Islanders
OK, the goal on many nights is to represent more teams for the stars of the night. But sometimes, like Thursday, you just have to acknowledge an outstanding NHL effort. Also: sometimes others are far enough behind top scorers or goalies that you just need to embrace the truth.
Mathew Barzal justifiably grabbed the headlines with his hat trick and five points. He’s a superlative skater and playmaker. As he reminded us, Barzal can also clearly finish chances.
After John Carlson put the Capitals up 1-0 early in the first period, Eberle scored the Islanders’ first goal (with Barzal grabbing a secondary assists). Overall, Eberle finished with two goals and one assist.
Heading into this one, Eberle was on a dry spell. He scored one goal, but was otherwise pointless in his past four games. During his past seven games, he scored two goals and zero assists.
Sometimes you score in bunches, so maybe this will help Eberle heat up a bit? (He’s been strong from a possession stat standpoint, so the Isles probably weren’t complaining about the hot-and-cold scoring.)
3. Dustin Tokarski, Buffalo Sabres
Looking at goalies as possible top three NHL stars for Thursday, there are some tough calls. Nothing in the way of a flamboyant shutout.
So, Dustin Tokarski did not win. You can definitely ding him for allowing three goals.
But the Sabres almost *gasp* put together something of a winning streak together thanks in large part to Tokarski. He made 44 saves, including stopping 20 out of 21 shots during the third. Take a look at the heat map, via Natural Stat Trick, to drive home Tokarski’s busy performance.
The other goalies worth consideration:
- Andrei Vasilevskiy holds, most likely, the best counterargument. Vasilevskiy made 36 saves, allowing two goals, and won. He’s also a Vezina trophy frontrunner. But isn’t it more fun to give it to Tokarski, a journeyman goalie?
- Then again, maybe Casey DeSmith deserves the nod after winning, stopping 30 shots, and only allowing a single goal?
- Cam Talbot made 35 saves, allowing two goals, and nabbed the win.
Stats of Thursday in the NHL: Kaprizov, Barzal
No, this is not the first time Mathew Barzal recorded at least five points. Doing it four times is pretty impressive, though.
Mathew Barzal became the fifth player in @NYIslanders history to record four regular-season outings with at least five points. #NHLStats pic.twitter.com/qHkP8yzUhu
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) April 2, 2021
Yes, Kirill Kaprizov is in rare company as far as starting off an NHL career without missing a beat.
Kirill Kaprizov became the eighth rookie in the past ten seasons to require 35 or fewer games to collect his first 30 career regular-season points. #NHLStats pic.twitter.com/uer9l8SVW5
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) April 2, 2021
Highlights for Thursday in the NHL
Watch in awe as Barzal generates a hat trick with real versatility, on his way to five points.
Strong stuff from Cam Talbot, on his way to a narrow win:
Thursday’s NHL scores
Hurricanes 4, Blackhawks 3
Penguins 4, Bruins 1
Rangers 3, Sabres 2 (OT)
Islanders 8, Capitals 4
Lightning 3, Blue Jackets 2
Panthers 3, Red Wings 2 (OT)
Canadiens 4, Senators 1
Stars 4, Predators 1
Wild 3, Golden Knights 2 (SO)
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.