Barzal among Islanders forwards who must step up in Game 2, Trotz says


Mathew Barzal is among the forwards the New York Islanders need more from in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Second Round against the Boston Bruins on Monday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN1, TVAS, TVAS2), coach Barry Trotz said Sunday.

After watching David Pastrnak score three goals and dominate play with linemates Patrice Bergeron (two assists) and Brad Marchand (one assist) in Boston’s 5-2 win in Game 1 of the best-of-7 series Saturday, Trotz said he is considering shuffling line combinations for Game 2.

Ultimately, it will come down to New York’s players performing better.

“You get on the ice (and) it doesn’t matter who you play with.” Trotz said. “You’ve got to raise your game. And we’ve got some guys that need to raise their game if we’re going to have success against the Boston Bruins.”

That includes Barzal. 

The swift-skating center had one shot on goal in Game 1. Though a strong shift by Barzal, Leo Komarov and Jordan Eberle generated the Islanders’ lone even-strength goal Saturday, scored by defenseman Adam Pelech to tie the game 2-2 at 12:34 of the second period, the line mostly was quiet.

Barzal has three assists in seven games in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs after the 24-year-old led the Islanders with 45 points (17 goals, 28 assists) in 55 regular-season games and has been impacted by the season-ending knee injury sustained by forward Anders Lee against the New Jersey Devils on March 11. 

Trotz said winning the series “will be difficult” without Barzal’s line producing.

“We have in the past at times,” Trotz said. “To be quite honest, I don’t know if we can do it against a very good Boston team.”

Barzal’s line isn’t the only one that can play better. The Islanders were outshot 40-22 and the shot attempts were 65-38 in the Bruins’ favor. The line of Anthony Beauvillier (two shots/two attempts), Brock Nelson (three shots/five attempts) and Josh Bailey (four shots/six attempts) totaled nine shots on goal and 13 shot attempts. Beauvillier scored a power-play goal on a deflection. 

“We rely on the four lines and we need at least three lines going,” Trotz said. “And last night I didn’t feel that I had three lines that were really on top of their game.”

Video: Pastrnak hatty leads Bruins past Islanders in Game 1

The Islanders were tied 2-2 despite being outshot 30-12 in the first two periods. They believe the shot numbers are a bit deceiving, but also know they need to do more to test Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask.

“The scoring chances are what you really key in on,” forward Kyle Palmieri said. “Shots from the outside and a couple low-danger shots are nothing to get too worked up about. But I think offensively we can do a better job of getting to the second opportunities and getting those on net, so we’ll make some adjustments and just get ready for the next game.”

Containing the top line of Jake Guentzel (one goal, one assist), Sidney Crosby (one goal, one assist) and Bryan Rust (two goals, one assist) was one of the keys for the Islanders in a six-game win against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round. New York saw Saturday that limiting Boston’s top line will be more challenging.

Marchand (four shots on goal), Bergeron (eight) and Pastrnak (seven) combined for 19 shots on goal, and Pastrnak scored his second NHL playoff hat trick. 

“With Crosby’s line, there’s a great player and two very good players,” Trotz said. “On this line, there’s probably three great players at different points in their careers. And that’s what makes that line so good. And last night they were on, and they were very difficult to stop. To me, they were the difference in the game.

“We won’t be able to win unless we have all four lines helping to keep them contained.”

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