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Islanders' Mathew Barzal hit with $5G fine for cross-check on Jan Rutta in Game 5 loss

Mathew Barzal of the Islanders warms up prior

Mathew Barzal of the Islanders warms up prior to Game Five of the Stanley Cup Semifinals during the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena on June 21, 2021 in Tampa, Florida.  Credit: Getty Images/Mike Carlson

Islanders forward Mathew Barzal was fined the maximum $5,000 Tuesday for his cross-check of Tampa Bay defenseman Jan Rutta in Monday night’s 8-0 loss in Game 5 of the semifinal series.

Barzal was given a major penalty and a game misconduct at the end of the second period for his hit on Rutta. Tampa Bay scored its seventh goal (by Brayden Point, extending his playoff goal scoring streak to eight games) on the ensuing power play.

There had been concern that Barzal might be suspended for the incident, but as a first-time offender, he was punished with the fine only.

Trotz tried motivation

Barry Trotz said pulling starting goaltender Semyon Varlamov late in the first period Monday had nothing to do with how Varlamov was playing, but was simply an attempt to shock the team into playing better.

"There's not a goalie coach who would tell you that… 'Hey, those are bad goals,’ ’’ Trotz said. "They're not. Those are sort of fortunate, fortunate bounces… That was [just] sending a message to the other guys of, ‘Let's help this guy out.’ ’’

Trotz had admiration for backup goaltender Ilya Sorokin, who came on in relief of Varlamov at 15:27 of the first period, after Alex Killorn’s first of two goals put Tampa Bay up, 3-0. According to Trotz, Sorokin knew whatever happened the rest of the way, however bad the score got out of control, he was going to have to finish. He ended up allowing five goals, on 26 shots, in 44:33.

"He battled through that,’’ Trotz said of Sorokin. "He got hurt with the high slapper [by Nikita Kucherov], I think it was in the second period, and he didn't want to come out. And he said, ‘I'm going to battle for the guys.’ And it just tells me the kind of character that our goalies have.’’

Isles files

The Islanders did not practice Tuesday… LW Oliver Wahlstrom remains a possibility to return to the lineup. He has not played since suffering a lower body injury in Game 5 of the first-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Wahlstrom has one goal and two assists in five games. Travis Zajac, who took his spot in the lineup, has one goal and one assist in 12 games.

New York Sports