It was a shocker to say the least when the final score at Barclays Center read 4-1 in favor of the Islanders over the defending Stanley Cup-champion Penguins on Tuesday night. And Isles fans can thank Mathew Barzal for the offensive production.
The dynamic rookie continued his Calder Trophy-worthy season with his 20th goal and an assist for two more points, marking 75 on the season. That total is third most in Islanders rookie history.
Barzal said his confidence this season has been the same since the beginning up until now, and head coach Doug Weight loves hearing that from his budding star.
"He's confident, and I don't think there's anything wrong with being confident," Weight told The Post's Brett Cyrgalis. "The greatness, if he wants to achieve as good as he thinks he can be, he's going to have to have that confidence."
Though the Islanders slipped out of playoff contention, Barzal's campaign is one of few positives to pull out of the season. He seems to be a shoe-in to win the Calder Trophy as the Canucks' Brock Boeser is the closest rookie in points with 55. The Lightning's Yanni Gourde and Coyotes' Clayton Keller each have 54 points as well.
But Barzal has tallied all his points in 73 games this season, and when he's on the ice, it is almost expected that he is involved in any scoring play. The trophy is his for the taking, and at this point in the season with all the speculation around him, Barzal is fully aware of that.
"I think it's talked about quite a bit and it's kind of hard to ignore," he said. "When we go into a game, I'm not thinking I want to get points for the Calder Trophy. I want to win. I want to help this team win. You grow as a player. It'd be nice to win that and be rewarded. But at the end of the day, it's a career and I don't want to just be a one-season guy."
The Islanders also snapped a three-game losing streak with their win over Pittsburgh. However, at 31-32-10, it is all but over for this group with just eight games to play.