BUFFALO — Mathew Barzal’s production has been hard to miss since the Islanders returned from their Christmas break. The NHL recognized it on Monday by naming the second-year center the league’s second star of the week.
“Yeah, it’s nice, for sure,” Barzal said. “You don’t really go into the week trying to be the second star or the first star of the week. You’re just trying to win games.”
Barzal had five goals and an assist in a two-game span, including his second career hat trick in Saturday’s 4-0 win at Toronto. Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (five goals, one assist) was the No. 1 star and Devils rookie Mackenzie Blackwood (2-0-0, 1.00 goals-against average, .975 save percentage) was the third star.
Barzal extended his point streak to five games (six goals, three assists) with an assist on defenseman Nick Leddy’s second-period goal in Monday night’s 3-1 win over the Sabres.
“I’m just trying to do the right things out there and play in the system,” said Barzal, named the NHL’s second star for the second time in his two seasons. “If you just do everything honestly for the team and help them win, when you play like that, things seem to fall into place.”
In awe of Arbour
Monday’s win gave Barry Trotz 783 victories in his 20 seasons as an NHL coach, moving him into sole possession of fourth place on the league’s all-time list, one ahead of Islanders Hall of Famer Al Arbour.
“I was too scared to talk to him,” Trotz said. “I had too much respect for what he had done. I was just a young guy when he was in his prime. It’s an honor for someone to be saying, ‘Hey, you and Al Arbour.’ I feel a little bit out of place.”
Center Valtteri Filppula logged one 32-second shift and exited at 3:03 of the first period with an upper-body injury. Trotz said he is day-to-day.