DALLAS — Mathew Barzal’s father, Mike, has a goal of visiting all 31 road arenas in the NHL. With the Islanders completing a swing through Nashville and Dallas during their current four-game trip, he decided to knock those two off his list.
That meant that when Barzal broke his season-long scoring drought on Saturday with a pair of goals in the Islanders’ 5-2 loss to the Stars, Mike got to be there.
Mike isn’t going with the team to Toronto — Barzal said there’s still “quite a few” road cities left for his dad to get to — but if there’s one overarching positive from Saturday’s loss, it’s the center getting on the scoresheet.
“It’s nice anytime you score,” Barzal said, “whether it’s your first or your 30th. I was never bothered by it. It didn’t matter to me at all. It’s just about making an impact.”
No one can deny that Barzal was making an impact, even as he failed to score through the Islanders’ first 18 games. He is averaging an assist per game, with 19 in total after Saturday, and has been their best player at times. It’s the kind of production the Islanders would have signed up for from their star before the season.
Nevertheless, the lack of scoring was hanging over him, and after he deflected Alexander Romanov’s shot into the Dallas net at 1:30 of the second period, Barzal was grinning from ear to ear. He would add a second goal later in the period, with a wrist shot from the slot on the power play at 14:59.
It was a a night of mixed results, as the Islanders lost a game they could have won and Barzal himself was primarily responsible for one of the Stars’ goals, letting Jamie Benn handle the puck right through him at the end of a shift that lasted 2:26, leading to Radek Faksa tying the score at 1-1.
“It was nice to see him get on the board,” coach Lane Lambert said. “We need him doing that. Certainly, I thought he was a little tired on that play. He was better tonight and continue to look at him and look forward for him to carry our team offensively.”
Barzal and his teammates had previously downplayed the scoring drought, pointing to his strong play in other areas, and it was no different when the drought ended.
“We all knew it was coming,” Anders Lee said. “He’s gotten those looks before, he’s gotten those touches. We can stop worrying about that and start seeing him doing it more often. I don’t think that was as big a deal as it got made up.”
Josh Bailey was back in the lineup after sitting the past two games as a healthy scratch, skating 14:48 with a shot on net.
Saturday marked Kyle Palmieri’s 700th NHL game and Adam Pelech’s 400th.