Mathew Barzal of the New York Islanders celebrates a goal against...

Mathew Barzal of the New York Islanders celebrates a goal against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden last December. Credit: Getty Images/Bruce Bennett

EDMONTON, Alberta — Mathew Barzal isn’t really sure whether he’s looking to shoot more, answering both no and yes within the span of a couple of minutes. Honestly, it probably doesn’t matter. All that matters is the Islanders' top-line center is starting to score goals with frequency while maintaining his point-per-game playmaking.

“Maybe I am looking to shoot a little more,” Barzal said. “It doesn’t feel like that mentally. But maybe I am pulling the trigger a little quicker than the past.”

The Islanders (22-15-2) continue their four-game western swing against the Oilers on Thursday night at Rogers Place after Barzal extended his goal-scoring streak to a career-high four games in Tuesday’s 6-2 win over his hometown Canucks.

His rising wrister at 16:28 of the second period was his only shot of the night.

“Honestly, it’s just a matter of making the right play,” said Barzal, who has five goals over the last four games. “I feel like a couple of times early in the year I had empty nets that got blocked. I could have had four or five but it just didn’t happen. Hockey is a game of bounces. I’m fortunate to be on the right side of those lately.”

Barzal, who went without a goal in his first 18 games, is now tied for fourth on the team with 10 while his 40 points lead the Islanders. He’s also fourth on the team with 92 shots.

“I don’t know if there’s necessarily a trickle-down,” coach Lane Lambert said. “But, certainly, when he’s on the board, and he’s been on the board a lot lately, it helps our hockey team.”

Lambert shuffled his lines after the first period on Tuesday and the Islanders responded with three goals in each of the last two periods. Casey Cizikas, usually the fourth-line center, was again tried with Barzal and Josh Bailey, with both Cizikas and Barzal taking shifts on right wing.


Barzal’s usual right wing, Oliver Wahlstrom, missed his third game with a lower-body injury and remains on injured reserve and out indefinitely.

Barzal and Cizikas combined for two goals against the Canucks. Cizikas was on the ice for Barzal’s unassisted goal and Barzal then slid the puck to Cizikas for a third-period score.

“He’s playing with a lot confidence right now,” Cizikas said. “The way he’s getting up the ice, the way he’s controlling the play, he’s making things happen and he’s drawing a lot of guys to him, which is giving other guys opportunities to get open and make plays and that’s what he does best.

“He’s dominant when he has the puck and he’s focusing on doing the right things in our end and being in the right places to put him in a spot where he can get the puck and get up the ice as quick as he can. I think that’s the biggest difference with his game right now.”

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