John Tavares who? The New York Islanders took care of the Toronto Maple Leafs handedly with a perfect 4-0 win.
It was the first time the New York Islanders would take on the former face of their franchise in John Tavares. Its hard to imagine game number 37 in a season meaning so much, but tonight’s game was an absolute must win.
Not only would a win keep the New York Islanders on pace with the rest of the division as they hunt for a playoff spot. But a win would also serve as a moral victory over a guy who chose to leave.
Going into the game it felt like this was game seven in the playoffs. It felt like everything was on the line, and the Isles took care of business.
There’s no better way to start a game than scoring first. After two good opportunities the Isles were able to get one by Garret Sparks thanks to Valtteri Filppula who splits the defense.
What a goal. Visions of Mario Lemieux flashed in my mind as Filppula split the D like a hot knife through butter. The Isles are 10-5-4 when scoring first and the Leafs are 6-9-1 when giving up the first goal.
Filppula would get another opportunity shorthanded as the Islanders exit the first period with a 1-0 lead.
Mat Barzal clearly didn’t care for all the Tavares talk going into the game. He took the team on his back and put in three goals in just over eight minutes of game time to make it 4-0 after 40.
All three goals were a delight, and more importantly all three goals were scored in a different way: deflection, slap-shot, and then a wrister with the third one.
That third goal was vintage Barzal. Gaining the zone with speed, looks for the pass before completing it all on his own. That was Barzal’s fifth goal in two nights, putting him on pace for 22 goals by April.
The Islanders didn’t add a fifth one but did everything they needed to do in order to see this out for the win. The win now gives the Islanders a victory win and twelve points in seven games.
Note: Through December 29th 2017 the Isles had 44 points in 38 games. The Isles now have 44 in 37 this season.
Fans Of the Game
Before the game we ask fans to tell us who they think can score the first goal for the Islanders. Only one guessed that Valtteri Filppula would score first.
— Matt (@BattleBorn10) December 30, 2018
1. Mathew Barzal: 3 goals
No one else deserved this. He turned his game up to an eleven scoring five in two nights. Five!
2. Robin Lehner: 36 Saves, Shutout
He was an absolute brick wall out there for the New York Islanders. He was tested often and he stood tall every single time.
3. Islanders Fans Everywhere: You earned this
This win was everything this fan base needed. It was THE perfect parting show at Tavares and all those smug Toronto fans.