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Mathew Barzal hot streak fueled by being on ‘right side’ of bounces lately

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Mathew Barzal Islanders
New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal, left, drives past Colorado Avalanche defenseman Devon Toews in the second period of an NHL hockey game, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Mathew Barzal doesn’t usually score at this kind of clip. 

The New York Islanders’ star forward scored again in his team’s 6-2 win over his hometown Vancouver Cancuks on Tuesday night, extending his career-high goal streak to four consecutive games. 

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He’s now up to 10 goals on the season after scoring just three in his first 30 games of the 2022-23 campaign — meaning he’s got seven in his last nine and five in his last four.

“I feel like, honestly, it’s just a matter of making the right play,” Barzal said (h/t Islanders). “A couple times earlier in the year, I had empty nets and they got blocked and I could’ve had four or five. They just didn’t happen.

“Hockey is a game of bounces… Fortunate to be on the right side of those lately.”

It’s not as though Barzal is exhibiting more offensive aggression when he is creating space with his premier skating ability, which was speculated by head coach Lane Lambert before the Islanders left for their northwest swing.

“I think, for the most part, he’s shooting the puck more,” Lambert said at the time. “That’s led to a bit more success, leads to more opportunities.”

Islanders Canucks
New York Islanders’ Mathew Barzal, center, celebrates his goal against the Vancouver Canucks with Casey Cizikas, Josh Bailey, Noah Dobson and Alexander Romanov, from left, during the second period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023, in Vancouver, British Columbia. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)

After averaging 2.25 shots per game over the first 30 outings of the season, he’s averaged just 2.33 shots per game during his hot streak. That includes just one shot in each of his last two games against the Seattle Kraken and Canucks — both of which went in.

He also had just two on Dec. 29 when he scored against the Columbus Blue Jackets at UBS Arena.

Over his last six games, his shooting percentage is an astounding 42.9%. For comparison’s sake, Jared McCann of the Kraken — the NHL’s leader in shooting percentage this season — is shooting at a 25.8% clip.

Sometimes it just comes down to puck luck because even Barzal can’t definitively put his finger on what’s changed in his scoring production.

“It doesn’t feel like [I’m looking to shoot the puck more] mentally,” Barzal said. “Maybe I am pulling the trigger a little quicker than in the past.”

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For more on the Islanders and Mathew Barzal, visit AMNY.com

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