The New York Islanders will be out to split their four-game road trip Monday night when they play the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Islanders have lost two in a row on their trip after dropping a 5-2 decision to the Dallas Stars on Saturday.
One positive the Islanders can take from the loss at Dallas is that Mathew Barzal scored his first two goals of the season. He had produced 19 assists without a goal in the previous 18 games.
“I’m excited to score whether it’s my first or my 15th,” Barzal said. “I wasn’t worried about it.”
His goals gave the Islanders 1-0 and 2-1 leads.
“We all knew it was coming,” said Anders Lee, who had an assist on Barzal’s second goal. “So now we can stop worrying about that and start seeing him do it more often. I don’t think that was as big a deal as it got made up.”
Allowing five goals, on the other hand, wasn’t an ideal outcome.
“Defensively, in our zone, we had a couple of breakdowns,” Islanders coach Lane Lambert said. “When we broke down, they took advantage of us, and it’s just something that we have to correct.”
“I thought we played a pretty good game,” center Kyle Palmieri said. “It just wasn’t enough to win, and that’s what matters at the end of the day.”
The Islanders opened their trip with a 4-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Monday before losing 5-4 to the Nashville Predators on Thursday.
The Maple Leafs defeated the Buffalo Sabres 5-2 on Saturday and will finish a three-game homestand Monday before going on a four-game road trip.
Maple Leafs goaltender Matt Murray made 32 saves against the Sabres to record his first home win of the season. After not playing since Oct. 12 because of a groin injury, Murray has started three consecutive games. The surging New Jersey Devils won 3-2 in overtime Thursday in Murray’s home debut.
“This has been a long time coming for me, getting into a home game and I’m having a lot of fun,” Murray said. “I’m trying to keep getting better as I go.”
“Defensively we were exceptional (Saturday),” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. “Between how we defended and how Matt played, we were a tough team to beat tonight. Between the penalties (Toronto took six minors), their best people touching the puck a lot and getting lots of shots, that’s where Murray was just outstanding. We talked about waiting for opportunities that would come.”
William Nylander scored twice for Toronto Saturday and has 10 goals for the season. John Tavares also scored his 10th goal of the season and added two assists. Mitchell Marner had two assists to extend his points streak to 12 games, one short of his career best. He has three goals and 14 assists during that span.
“I just feel like I’m doing me, as usual, trying to buzz out there,” Marner said. “Hold on to the puck and make the plays that I can, get pucks towards the net. Just try to get myself in areas I can make plays from and if not, just get them towards the net for rebounds or second opportunities. I’m lucky enough to have great people who can put the pucks in.”
Toronto is 6-1-3 in the past 10 games.
“Even though we haven’t played perfect games, we’ve lost one game in regulation since coming back from that California trip,” Keefe said. “So, a lot of good things happening.”