Barzal gets hat trick, Isles beat Leafs in Tavares reunion
TORONTO (AP) — John Tavares had a front-row seat for Mathew Barzal’s first-career hat trick a little over a year ago as his friend, teammate and captain.
The New York Islanders center’s second three-goal game in the NHL left Tavares with a decidedly different feeling Saturday.
Barzal scored a natural hat trick in the second period, Valtteri Filppula had a highlight-reel goal and the New York Islanders beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-0 in their first game against Tavares, their former captain.
New York has won six of seven. Robin Lehner made 36 saves for his second shutout of the season, and Ryan Pulock had two assists.
The Islanders pounded the Maple Leafs in a reunion with Tavares, who signed with Toronto as a free agent July 1.
“Anticipation and a lot of unknown,” Tavares said of his emotions before puck drop. “Going against a lot of familiar faces ... I just tried to handle it as best I could.
“Just wish I could have played better and got a better result.”
The 28-year-old Tavares played nine seasons in New York, collecting 272 goals and 349 assists for 621 points in 669 games.
“To have one like tonight’s obviously disappointing,” said Tavares. “It’s going to leave a sour taste.
“Hopefully we can learn from this.”
Garret Sparks stopped 24 shots as Toronto ended its five-game winning streak.
“We all love Johnny,” said Barzal, the reigning NHL rookie of the year. “He was such a big part of this team.
“We wanted to beat him, I’m sure he wanted to beat us.”
Filppula got New York going by splitting two defenders on a 1-on-2 rush and beating Sparks past the blocker for his ninth goal.
Barzal then ran off his second career hat trick in less than eight minutes. Last season’s Rookie of the Year tipped Johnny Boychuk’s point shot for a 2-0 lead at 2:49 and deflected a one-timer off defenseman Nikita Zaitsev during a power play two minutes later. He completed the hat trick off a neutral zone turnover, beating Sparks five-hole for his 10th goal.
Barzal’s three-goal game was the first by an Islander against Toronto since Mike Bossy on March 20, 1986.
Tavares , the first pick in the 2009 NHL draft, served as Islanders captain from September 2013 until bolting for the team he cheered for as a kid growing up in Toronto’s suburbs.
He has 26 goals and 18 assists in 39 games with his new team, but saw a six-game point streak (seven goals, four assists) come to an end as his old club got a measure of revenge led by Barzal’s second-career hat trick.
“We weren’t good enough,” Leafs head coach Mike Babcock said. “They gave us a lesson.”
NOTES: Barzal’s other NHL hat trick came Dec. 23, 2017, against Winnipeg. ... Sparks got his third straight start. He picked a 4-2 road victory Friday over Columbus in Toronto’s first game after the NHL’s Christmas break. ... Leafs No. 1 goalie Frederik Andersen backed up Sparks the last two games, but didn’t dress against New York because of a groin injury. Kasimir Kaskisuo was recalled from the AHL Marlies on an emergency basis. ... Michael Dal Colle, who was recalled from the AHL with Islanders F Jordan Eberle (upper-body injury) on injured reserve, recorded an assist for his first NHL point in his seventh game.
Islanders: Play at Buffalo on Monday night.
Maple Leafs: Host Minnesota on Thursday.