Mathew Barzal’s Game 5 major, game misconduct makes status for Game 6 now questionable

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The Islanders may be without their best player for what will be a do-or-die Game 6 on Wednesday.

As the second period of their Stanley Cup semifinals Game 5 loss against the Lightning came to an end, Mathew Barzal went after Jan Rutta and proceeded to cross-check him in the face before throwing a punch. It looked like the two had exchanged some words prior to the headshot.

Rutta was down on the ice for a bit. Barzal was handed a five-minute major for cross-checking and a game misconduct. The Lightning defenseman was not on the bench to start the third period and coach Jon Cooper did not have an update after the game.

Already up 6-0, Tampa Bay started the third period with the man advantage and added another tally with the five-minute power play. The Lightning won by a final score of 8-0.

“Just disappointed because you know it wasn’t going well,” said Islanders bench boss Barry Trotz postgame adding, later on, that he had not heard anything from the league regarding supplementary discipline.

But will he? With a major handed out — and it being a headshot — the play will now certainly be reviewed by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety. So, the question is: Will Barzal be suspended?

The NHL has doled out a few suspensions this postseason:

Team Player Infraction Length
WPG Mark Scheifele Charging 4 games
VGK Ryan Reaves Match penalty 2 games
COL Nazem Kadri Illegal check to the head 8 games
EDM Josh Archibald Clipping 1 game
FLA Sam Bennett Boarding 1 game

Losing Barzal would leave a massive offensive hole for Barry Trotz’s squad. The Islanders’ top points leader from the regular season (45 points in 55 games), Barzal has 12 points in the postseason. After starting the playoffs ice cold — 0 goals in the first eight games — he has notched six in the last eight (entering Monday) and leads the team with three goals against the Lightning.

The one thing that could help Barzal is that he has never been suspended in his career. In 289 games, he has only had one misconduct — a 10-minute trip to the penalty box on Jan. 28 at the Capitals. He was fined in April for diving/embellishment.

New York will now have 48 hours to wonder what happens next. Game 6 is scheduled for Wednesday night at what could be the final swan song for the Nassau Coliseum.

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