Barzal’s 5 points leads Islanders past Capitals 8-4

NHL

UNIONDALE, NEW YORK – APRIL 01: Mathew Barzal #13 of the New York Islanders (R) scores his third goal of the game for the hattrick against the Washington Capitals at 18:54 of the third period and is joined by Josh Bailey #12 (L) at the Nassau Coliseum on April 01, 2021 in Uniondale, New York. The Islanders defeated the Capitals 8-4. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

UNIONDALE, L.I. — Mathew Barzal had three goals and two assists, Jordan Eberle scored twice, and the New York Islanders beat the Washington Capitals 8-4 Thursday night.

Brock Nelson, Casey Cizikas and Josh Bailey also scored to help the Islanders improve to 14-1-2 at home and move back into a tie with Washington and Pittsburgh atop the East Division with 50 points. The Capitals have a game in hand on both the Islanders and Penguins.

Semyon Varlamov made 22 saves for New York, improving to 8-3-1 in his last 12 decisions while allowing only 30 goals over that span. Varalmov is 15-7-3 overall this season.

John Carlson had two goals, and T.J. Oshie and Daniel Sprong also scored for the Capitals.

The game featured a chaotic first period, beginning during the initial minute when Washington’s starting goaltender Ilya Samsonov had to leave the ice just 30 seconds in after Oshie collided with him behind the net. Oshie’s shoulder made contact with Samsonov’s head, and the goalie skated off for precautionary reasons. Vitek Vanacek temporarily took over in the crease.

Carlson quickly opened the scoring at 1:01, blasting Washington’s first shot past Varlamov with assists credited to Tom Wilson and Conor Sheary.

Eberle tied it at 5:02, taking a cross-ice pass from Leo Komarov and rifling the puck past Vanacek.

The fleet Barzal then put the Islanders ahead 2-1 with a spectacular end-to-end rush, skating through the entire Capitals on-ice quintet and finishing off the solo effort at 16:09 with a high shot past Vanacek while somehow balancing on his right skate blade.

Samsonov returned with just over three minutes remaining in the period, just before Nelson scored his 13th goal at 17:32 to make it 3-1.

Sprong narrowed the deficit 48 seconds later before Barzal scored again at 18:53 by sliding the puck past Samsonov from a near-impossible angle below the left faceoff circle to make it 4-2 before the first intermission.

The Islanders outshot the Capitals 13-7 in the six-goal first period and had a 9-7 shots advantage in the second when the scoring continued as Cizikas made it 5-2 with his seventh goal at 3:03 before Oshie closed the deficit with a power-play goal at 6:47.

Eberle then added his second goal of the night at 8:08, one-timing a pass from Barzal for his 13th before Carlson added his second of the game and ninth of the season at 19:01 of the middle period.

Bailey scored at 3:13 of third to make it 7-4 before Barzal completed his fourth career hat trick at 18:54, swatting a puck out of the air past Samsonov as the Islanders set a season high in goals.

Barzal’s five-point performance gave him a team-best 33 points through 37 games. He is tied with Eberle and Nelson for the team lead with 13 goals.

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