Mathew Barzal took a bad penalty at a bad time. That it ultimately didn’t cost the Islanders a win did not temper coach Barry Trotz’s frustration all that much.
“I didn’t like the way we gave away the point,” Trotz said. “We got the lead and we’re pretty comfortable with the lead and we took an unnecessary penalty. That’s unacceptable. We pride ourselves on team first. That wasn’t team first. That was personal.”
Anthony Beauvillier, gassed at the end of a shift that could have gone very wrong for the Islanders after he got caught up ice on odd-man rush, wound up scoring on a breakaway for a 3-2 overtime win over the Sabres on Saturday afternoon at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum.
“I tried to be physical there and they beat me up the ice and it didn’t seem like I could find any energy coming back,” said Beauvillier, who also had two assists. “I put my head down and tried to put a little move and shoot on goal and it went in. We’ll take it.”
The Islanders (22-7-2) certainly played well enough for most of the game to deserve the two points, limiting the Sabres to few dangerous chances five-on-five.
But the Sabres (16-11-7) went 2-for-2 on the power play and that included Jack Eichel’s goal at 18:14 with Barzal off as the Sabres skated six-on-four with the net empty. Eichel also had an assist as he stretched his point streak to 16 games.
Semyon Varlamov made 33 saves while Linus Ullmark stopped 23 shots for the Sabres, who had a three-game winning streak snapped.
“It’s tough because you’re kind of in a good spot up until that point,” said center Brock Nelson, who started the sequence leading to Beauvillier’s winner by breaking up the Sabres’ rush with his stick. “When they tie it up, you just have to reset and refocus and know that the game is not over even though it might feel like it. You kind of sink a little bit but you’ve got to pick yourself back up and go.”
Barzal, engaged in a running dispute with Rasmus Dahlin, was called for roughing the defenseman in the Sabres’ zone at 16:27 of the third period as the Islanders were nursing a one-goal lead.
“It’s been mentioned, more than very clearly,” Trotz said. “You learn you can’t let the personal stuff get in the way. Whatever happened on the ice between him and Dahlin, you work that out on your own. Mathew will respond the way he should respond, he’s a good pro. He just had a moment where he saw red and couldn’t let it go.”
Trotz said he considered benching the fleet-skating Barzal, who thrives in the three-on-three overtimes because of the open space.
“Absolutely,” Trotz said. “You want to have accountability. But, also, there’s an opportunity. He’s pretty good three-on-three where he can dominate a shift. You can make up for it a little bit.
“It’ll be a learning moment,” Trotz added. “I’ll guarantee you, if it happens again, he’ll have a long sit. That’s not just one player. That’s everybody. We don’t need that in a game.”
Victor Olofsson’s power-play one-timer off Dahlin’s feed tied the game at 1-1 at 6:11 of the second period. But Nelson fed Jordan Eberle in the low slot for a 2-1 lead at 4:50 of the third period.
Michael Dal Colle, with his second goal of the season and first since Oct. 19, had given the Islanders a 1-0 lead at 5:11 of the first period after Beauvillier created a turnover with his forecheck and backhanded the puck to him.
But Dal Colle exited at 17:37 of the first period with an upper-body injury.