Devon Toews of the New York Islanders celebrates his first NHL goal, an OT game-winner over the Blackhawks. (Photo: Getty Images)
Devon Toews of the New York Islanders celebrates his first NHL goal, an OT game-winner over the Blackhawks. (Photo: Getty Images)
How's that for your first NHL goal, Devon Toews? 
The New York Islanders rookie defenseman lit the lamp for the very first time as a pro in a huge way on Thursday night at the Nassau Coliseum, an overtime winner over the Chicago Blackhawks to clinch a 3-2 triumph. 
"It's probably as good as it gets," Toews said of his winner. "It feels good to help contribute to the win and scoring an OT winner. It's pretty cool."
It is the Islanders' eighth victory in nine games as they continue to stay in the thick of the playoff race in the Eastern Conference as they near their midway point of the 2018-19 season.
Playing in just his fifth NHL game, the 24-year-old has quickly acclimated to the NHL, garnering a plus-five rating while averaging near 18 minutes of ice time per game. 
"I feel really good," Toews said of his brief NHL stint so far. "Obviously, there are learning experiences throughout the games that I have to learn from. But for the most part... I feel like I'm playing with a lot of poise."
But following a fluky Patrick Kane goal that knuckled past an unsuspecting Robin Lehner that drew the Blackhawks level with the Islanders, Toews -- no relation to Chicago's star, Jonathan -- played the hero on the offensive end during the 3-on-3 overtime. 
Taking a feed from  Josh Bailey on the right wing, Toews' initial one-time shot was saved by Collin Delia. The rebound though came right back to the blueliner, who slid a wrister through the legs of the scrambling Hawks goalie. 
"Yeah, we'll take it," Toews said while holding back a grin. "It feels good to score."
His shining moment somewhat overshadowed yet another brilliant outing from Mathew Barzal, the reigning rookie of the year tallying two more goals on Thursday to extend his point streak to six games. 
After scoring just four times in his first 33 games, Barzal has eight goals during his point streak. 
He made the stupendous look mundane in the process, getting the Islanders' on the board by batting a rebound out of mid-air to Dalia's right into the top corner of the net to cancel out the opener from Dominik Kahun. 
He put the Islanders ahead in the second when a deflected shot from Nick Leddy rolled right to uncovered center, who easily tapped it into a gaping net. 
"This is one of the coolest locker rooms I've been in," Barzal said, attributing his play to his teammates. "Everyone's just kind of a big group here. It's a lot of fun off the ice and that camaraderie definitely translates to on the ice... Things are good right now."
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