The Tampa Bay Lightning had already run the score up to 6-0 by the time Mathew Barzal received a major penalty as well as a game misconduct for cross-checking. Barzal and Jan Rutta exchanged words at the close of the second period when the two got into an altercation leading to Rutta hitting the ice.
Unfortunately for the Islanders, after the refs reviewed the scrum, Barzal was found to have made contact with Rutta in the face, and thus, he was thrown out for the remainder of the game. This brought no favors for the Islanders as their struggles became more difficult for the remainder of the game. Down 6-0 going into the third period, the hill the Isles needed to climb became steeper. Without Barzal, known for his speed and ability to get pucks to the net, the Islanders found themselves at a huge disadvantage.
“I was disappointed because you know, it wasn’t going well and he sorta just dug it a little deeper for the guys,” said head coach, Barry Trotz in an interview with NHL Network. “Usually what happens is the biggest concern you have as the coach when they do something like that is you know guys have to block shots, you lose another guy because they’re battling through it. So yea I am disappointed in his decision there.”
Looking towards Game 6, there is no statement from the NHL Department of Player Safety as of yet, so the mystery looms if Barzal will be allowed, or if he’ll just get slapped with a fine.
If Barzal is suspended for Game 6, it is a huge setback for the Islanders. He has performed well since the second round against the Boston Bruins and has put up three goals against Tampa in five games.
In the case that Barzal only receives a fine and is allowed to play in Game 6, it could be expected that there will be a target on his back, and possibly some more physicality between him and Rutta. It worked out well for the Bolts when Barzal was called for a penalty, and if the Islanders force a Game 7, Tampa’s going to want to draw the penalties on New York’s best players in hopes of taking him out of the game. However, Barzal could also go into Game 6 wanting some retribution from what occurred Monday night, and he may get the ball rolling for the Islanders by tallying a few points of his own. I would the Isles to play desperate and draw a game seven.
Until the NHL makes a decision on Barzal’s cross-checking penalty, if they make a decision at all, it is going to be a long 24 hours for the team and fanbase as they await to find out the results.
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Also Posted on nyislesblog.com