The rookie defenseman scored his first NHL goal for the overtime winner as the Islanders beat the Blackhawks, 3-2, at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum before a crowd of 13,454, which was just shy of a fourth straight sellout at the venerable barn.
“Toews has been a big piece the last five, six games,” said Barzal, 21, who scored twice to extend his point streak to six games (eight goals, three assists) a day after being named to his first NHL All-Star Game. “He’s added another weapon back there.”
The Islanders (22-13-4) have won eight of their last nine and matched their season high with their fifth straight win. Their last six-game winning streak came at the conclusion of 2016-17.
Robin Lehner made 19 saves in winning his sixth straight decision and has now allowed just 10 goals in his last nine appearances. Collin Delia stopped 47 shots for the Blackhawks (15-21-7).
Toews, 24, connected from the right at 1:48 of the extra period for his first NHL point in his fifth game since being recalled from Bridgeport (AHL).
“I feel really good,” said Toews, a fourth-round pick in 2014 who was limited to 30 games last season because of a shoulder injury. “It’s a learning experience throughout the game.”
Toews took six shots in 16:16 and earned coach Barry Trotz’s trust to be used in the three-on-three overtime.
“It’s pretty special to get your first NHL goal in overtime,” Trotz said.
Meanwhile, Barzal had a game-high eight shots in 20:16 and drew both of the penalties the Blackhawks took.
He has scored seven of the Islanders’ last 13 goals.
“I thought Mat was really good,” Trotz said. “He managed the puck really well. He challenged the seams and was taking the ice that was presented. I thought he played a pretty complete game.”
“Confidence comes from working hard and doing the extra stuff,” Barzal added.
Prior to the game, Trotz had warned his team that the Blackhawks presented a potential “trap game” because they entered the game tied for the third fewest points in the NHL, despite winning three Stanley Cups between 2010-15. The Islanders were coming off of Saturday’s emotional 4-0 win at Toronto in their first game against ex-captain John Tavares and Monday’s 3-1 win at Buffalo as Lehner faced the Sabres for the first time since signing a one-year, $1.5-million deal.
But the Blackhawks, despite the overtime loss, are still on a 6-3-2 run. Joel Quenneville, second on the NHL’s all-time list with 890 coaching victories, was fired and replaced by ex-Islander Jeremy Colliton, 33, on Nov. 6.
Patrick Kane tied the score at 2 with a power-play goal from the right at 5:01 of the third period. The Blackhawks were outshot 18-3 in the period.
The Islanders built a 14-3 shot advantage in the first period and took the game’s first five shots, but the Blackhawks took a 1-0 lead at 3:05. Dominik Kahun, to Lehner’s left, backhanded in the rebound of Brandon Saad’s deflection.
Barzal tied the score at 1 at 6:47 of the first period with his own rebound goal. He swatted the puck out of the air from low in the left circle after Delia stopped Anthony Beauvillier.
Barzal’s power-play goal at 18:56 of the second period — he had drawn a holding penalty on Gustav Forsling at 18:35 — gave the Islanders a 2-1 lead. He connected from below the left circle after defenseman Nick Leddy had his initial shot partially blocked.