The Islanders’ chances in their first-round series against the Penguins would improve greatly with more production from top-liners Mathew Barzal and Jordan Eberle.
Coach Barry Trotz believes things may be trending that way for Saturday afternoon’s Game 4 at Nassau Coliseum after both had their first points of the series in Thursday night’s 5-4 loss at the barn.
"He was," Trotz said when asked if Barzal was more impactful in Game 3. "His line was. You look back at the first two games, he was pretty quiet and we got a split. So, it’s good for us that he’s sort of waking up and being more of a force in the games. That should serve us well going forward."
Barzal had two primary assists, setting up defenseman Scott Mayfield’s second-period goal and Anthony Beauvillier’s third-period power-play goal. Eberle had the secondary assist on Mayfield’s tally.
Barzal also had a game-high five shots in Game 3 after totaling four in the first two games.
Grinder Leo Komarov completes the top trio with Barzal and Eberle with captain Anders Lee (right knee) out for the season.
Komarov is not a finisher. But he does go hard to the net.
"You look at the goals, everything is just tips and off bodies," said Eberle, who had four goals in the Islanders’ four-game, first-round sweep of the Penguins in 2019. "You’ve got to find a way to get to the paint and create chances that way. There’s not a lot of odd-man rushes. There’s not a lot of open chances. The key is getting a little bit grittier and getting around the net. Our line found some offense last game. But you want to be a part of it and be in the moment and find that big goal to help your team win."