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5 things learned from Sept. 29 preseason games

Barzal excelling for Islanders; Canadiens show intensity in first win @NHLdotcom

With the 16-day, 109-game preseason schedule nearing its end, it's time to take a closer look at the players, teams and stories that are making headlines in the final days leading up to the start of the regular season on Oct. 4. 

Here are five things we learned from the preseason games Friday:


Barzal bidding to stay with Islanders

Center Mathew Barzal is making a strong case to begin the season with the New York Islanders. The No. 16 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft leads the Islanders with six points (three goals, three assists) in four preseason games. All three assists came Friday, when the Islanders defeated the Buffalo Sabres 3-1 at KeyBank Center.

Barzal set up goals by Anders Lee in the first period, Jordan Eberle in the second and Nikolay Kulemin in the third.

"He was excellent tonight," coach Doug Weight told the Islanders website. "He's created a lot of offense, he's skating well and he's making some good decisions, too. There were a couple of shifts where maybe he got over extended, but those are things to get better, but he played another good game."

Barzal played two games with the Islanders last season before being returned to Seattle of the Western Hockey League. He has looked much more comfortable at camp this year.

"I thought everyone had a little bit of chemistry with everybody, so it was just nice to come in here and get a win," Barzal said. "They were playing a lot of their starters, so it felt a bit like an NHL game."

Video: NJD@NYI: Barzal shows off speed and shot on PPG


Canadiens win for first time

After opening the preseason with six straight losses, the Montreal Canadiens ended their drought by defeating the Florida Panthers 3-1 at Bell Centre. Paul Byron scored two goals, Andrew Shaw had a goal and an assist and Phillip Danault had two assists.

Byron said the Canadiens had to prove they were ready for the regular season; they open Oct. 5 at the Buffalo Sabres.
"We needed to show intensity. We couldn't have a preseason mentality anymore, with only one exhibition game left to play," Byron said, according to the Canadiens website. "We needed to play intense hockey and show that we're ready for the regular season."

"Everyone played well, and the team fought hard. It was the kind of effort we needed, and it's because of that effort we won."

 Video: Byron scores twice as Habs beat Panthers 3-1


Hurricanes look ready for opener

The Carolina Hurricanes finished their preseason with a 5-2-0 record after defeating the Washington Capitals 3-1 at PNC Arena. All three goals were scored by defensemen (Justin Faulk, Noah Hanifin, Trevor van Riemsdyk), and Carolina limited Washington to 19 shots on goal.

Goaltender Scott Darling made 18 saves and finished with 37 saves on 40 shots (.925 save percentage) in his two preseason starts. Though coach Bill Peters didn't commit to it, Darling is expected to be in goal when the Hurricanes open their regular season at home against the Minnesota Wild on Oct. 7.

Peters said he was pleased with the way the Hurricanes shut down the Capitals in the third period, limiting Washington to five shots on goal.

"We just want to be using our skating ability," he told the Hurricanes website. "I think everyone out there can skate really well. I think if we use that to take away time and space, it makes it a lot more difficult on their forwards to make plays and get pucks to the net.

Video: Defensemen shine in Hurricanes' win against Caps


Capitals struggling to score

Washington coach Barry Trotz didn't have his full lineup against Carolina, but he's not happy about the Capitals' offensive problems during the preseason. Washington is 1-5-0 after the loss to Carolina and has scored more than one goal once.

"We need a little more offense out of our forwards, there is no question," he told the Capitals website. "We've scored three 5-on-5 goals; that's disturbing with the quality of forwards that we have. We've got nothing from our top guys to this point in terms of production and points. But I trust that their skill and their pedigree will come out."

Washington finishes its preseason Sunday at the St. Louis Blues.


Matthews, Nylander working magic for Maple Leafs

The combination of Auston Matthews and William Nylander continued to click for the Toronto Maple Leafs in a 4-2 win against the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena.

With each team playing most of its regulars, Matthews and Nylander each scored a goal and set up the other's. Matthews has five preseason goals, Nylander has four.

"That was a good line for us. They dominated from the start to the end," coach Mike Babcock told the Toronto Star. "They were the only line that was good from the start. They got a real nice line. They play hard, and they can play against anybody and they have the puck all the time."

Toronto is 5-2-0 and has won five consecutive games going into the rematch against the Red Wings at Air Canada Centre on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, SN1, NHL.TV).

Video: TOR@DET: Matthews cashes in on his own rebound


Wild, Stars set for rematch

The Minnesota Wild and Dallas Stars play at Xcel Energy Center in one of 10 games on the next-to-last day of the preseason. It's a rematch of their game at American Airlines Center on Tuesday, when the Stars won 4-1.

Six of the 10 games will be available to fans on NHL.TV.


[NHL.TV: Full Preseason Schedule | Subscribe Now]


Here is the full schedule for Saturday (all times ET)

Blue Jackets at Penguins, 4 p.m. (NHLN, ATTSN, NHL.TV)
Red Wings at Maple Leafs, 7 p.m. (NHLN, SN, SN1, NHL.TV)
Senators at Canadiens, 7 p.m. (TSN5, RDS, NHL.TV)
Stars at Wild, 8 p.m.
Lightning at Predators, 8 p.m.
Bruins at Blackhawks, 8:30 p.m. (CSN-CH, NHL.TV)
Jets at Flames, 9 p.m.
Coyotes at Sharks, 10 p.m.
Oilers at Canucks, 10 p.m. (SN, NHL.TV)
Anaheim at Los Angeles, 10 p.m. (NHLN, PRIME, NHL.TV)

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