This season, Islanders forward Mathew Barzal was invited to the NHL All-Star Game for the second straight season. Last year, he grabbed an assist in the semi-final game against the Atlantic Division before scoring twice and adding three helpers to give the Metropolitan Division the win over the Central Division in the Final. Barzal played with a pair of Penguins in 2019 and he returned to the All-Star festivities in 2020 on a line with two Capitals.
In the first half of the Metropolitan Division’s semifinal matchup with the Atlantic, Barzal notched the first of his two assists. A stretch pass and some sauce helped get the Metro on the board in the first half. Let’s break it down.
The play begins behind the Metro net. TJ Oshie swings behind the cage to give himself time and space. Barzal sets up on the right-wing wall at the blue line while John Carlson streaks down the left-wing side. Jack Eichel and David Pastrnak are non-committal in their forecheck, allowing Oshie to send Barzal on his way with a stretch pass. The pass beats both Eichel and Pastrnak, giving Barzal a 2-on-1 with Carlson. Victor Hedman sits as the only man back for the Atlantic. Hedman does not put his stick on the ice at first, almost daring Barzal to try a pass. Barzal waits until Hedman does put his stick down to send a saucer pass over to Carlson. Carlson has to adjust a little bit as the puck doesn’t hit the ice until it is right in his wheelhouse. A quick one-timer allows Carlson to beat a sliding Freddy Andersen.
3-on-3 play is so exciting because of how easily odd-man rushes can be created. On this goal, the odd-man rush was created by a simple stretch pass by Oshie that beats two forecheckers. Barzal’s patience and passing abilities were crucial in waiting out Hedman’s defensive efforts to block the pass.
Mathew Barzal already has three overtime points, all assists, this season for the Islanders and plays like this will help up those totals and help the team win games.