PITTSBURGH — Mathew Barzal had a rough second NHL game on Wednesday night, committing a neutral-zone turnover that led to the Canadiens’ first goal and then losing a battle in front of the Islanders’ net on Montreal’s second goal.
He was back to being a healthy scratch Thursday night, the sixth time in the Islanders’ first eight games that the 19-year-old was in street clothes. Jack Capuano would not say that the mistakes were the reason Barzal was scratched and that Shane Prince, who has been out with a lower-body injury since Oct. 16, returned to the lineup against the Penguins.
“I don’t want to keep experimenting here. We want to get some continuity going with the lines,” said Capuano, who moved Ryan Strome back to center after having Strome play on Barzal’s right side in Wednesday night’s 3-2 loss. “The vets have been real good with [Barzal]. He knows he turned the puck over there. But we don’t want to take away his creativity, either. It’s not the reason why he’s out of the lineup by any means.”
Prince played the first two games of the season but clearly was hampered by the injury, which cost him a chunk of practice and preseason game time in training camp. He began the game on the left wing with Strome and Alan Quine.
Barzal can play up to nine NHL games before the first year of his contract kicks in. Healthy scratches do not count against that total. Anthony Beauvillier, Barzal’s fellow teen, played his seventh game of the season on Thursday night.
When will Berube play?
J-F Berube dressed as the backup for a second straight night, but the Isles’ third goaltender still hasn’t gotten in a game and there’s no plan right now to get him into one. Jaroslav Halak made his fifth start Thursday night and Thomas Greiss, who got the night off, has made three starts.
“[Getting the starters rest] is good for us. We actually like having the three goalies,” Capuano said. “It’s not an ideal situation for J-F. He obviously wants to play and he’ll get his opportunity as we go here.”