Mathew Barzal
Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images

Mathew Barzal’s natural hat trick helped the New York Islanders mercilessly roll over John Tavares and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

  • New York Islanders 4 (Valtteri Filppula, Mathew Barzal (3))
  • Toronto Maple Leafs 0 (26-11-2, 54 points)
  • NHL, Final, Box Score
  • Air Canada Center, Toronto, ON
The New York Islanders sent a personal statement to former captain and franchise player John Tavares: “We don’t need you.”

Both Islanders and Maple Leafs fans have had December 29 penciled in their calendars for months. For Islanders fans, this is only the beginning of what is to eventually come on Feb. 28, 2019. For Leafs fans, this was only a sample of the vitriol hundreds of thousands of Islanders fans will begin to unleash for years to come.

In a contest of personal grudges, the Islanders take the first round with a commanding 4-0 victory. Robin Lehner preserved his 10th-career shutout in style, stopping 36 Maple Leaf shots and all five from Tavares. For the Islanders, it’s their first-ever shutout in Toronto, and the first-ever in Ontario.

The Islanders played their most complete game as a team this season, and arguably within the last several years. Valtteri Filppula’s monster game got it started, with a highlight-reel goal to break the ice.

The score would carry into the second period despite the Leafs going up on a powerplay which bled into the second period. If the score didn’t already tell you, then spoiler alert: the Islanders PK killed it off.

Heading into the second period, the Islanders killed a penalty and proceeded to rock the Leafs for four goals. Johnny Boychuk, Anthony Beauvillier, Nick Leddy, Brock Nelson, and Ryan Pulock all picked up assists on all three of Mathew Barzal’s goals.

Mathew Barzal is the first New York Islander to score a hat trick against the Maple Leafs since Mike Bossy did it on March 20, 1986.

With tonight’s victory, Barry Trotz has officially tied Al Arbour in NHL career coaching wins. Trotz’s milestones are an inevitability, and it’s even more fitting for him to surpass Arbour’s record behind the very same bench he oversaw.

The Islanders are putting themselves in a position to surge heading into the new year, with their third-straight win. They currently sit one point from a wild card spot and are tied with Pittsburgh for third in the Metropolitan Division.

Tonight, they will have time to reflect on their most satisfying win this season. The Toronto Media will never understand the agony felt by anyone close to the Islanders in the time leading up to July 1, 2018.

This wasn’t a win, this was a statement by the Islanders, for their fans.

Until next year at the old barn, sweet dreams John Tavares.

We don’t need you.

Grew up a diehard Islanders and Mets fan based out of Northern New Jersey. Concluding my Broadcast Communications degree at William Paterson University. WP Sportsdesk member, Stan Fischler correspondent, music buff and total Star Wars freak. Follow my social media handles to learn more. Matt Di Giacomo is a Staff Writer for the Islanders on Elite Sports NY. He encourages team discussion. Tweet him @mdigiacESNY and check out his reviews on YouTube.