December 29, 2018 | 10:16pm
Mathew Barzal celebrates his third goal of the game, lifting the Islanders to a 4-0 win over John Tavares and the host Maple Leafs.
TORONTO — John Tavares had a front-row seat for Mathew Barzal’s first career hat trick, a little over a year ago — as his friend, teammate and captain.
Barzal’s second three-goal game in the NHL left Tavares with a decidedly different feeling Saturday night.
Barzal scored a natural hat trick in the second period, Valtteri Filppula had a highlight-reel goal and the Islanders beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-0 in their first game against Tavares, their former captain.
The Islanders have won six of seven. Robin Lehner made 36 saves for his second shutout of the season, and Ryan Pulock had two assists.
The Islanders pounded the Maple Leafs in a reunion with Tavares, who signed with Toronto as a free agent July 1.
“Anticipation and a lot of unknown,” Tavares said of his emotions before puck drop. “Going against a lot of familiar faces … I just tried to handle it as best I could.
“Just wish I could have played better and got a better result.”
The 28-year-old Tavares played nine seasons on Long Island, collecting 272 goals and 349 assists for 621 points in 669 games.
“To have one like tonight’s obviously disappointing,” said Tavares. “It’s going to leave a sour taste.
“Hopefully we can learn from this.”
Garret Sparks stopped 24 shots as Toronto ended its five-game winning streak.
“We all love Johnny,” said Barzal, the reigning NHL rookie of the year. “He was such a big part of this team.
“We wanted to beat him, I’m sure he wanted to beat us.”
Filppula got New York going by splitting two defenders on a 1-on-2 rush and beating Sparks past the blocker for his ninth goal.
Barzal then ran off his second career hat trick in less than eight minutes. Last season’s Rookie of the Year tipped Johnny Boychuk’s point shot for a 2-0 lead at 2:49 and deflected a one-timer off defenseman Nikita Zaitsev during a power play two minutes later. He completed the hat trick off a neutral zone turnover, beating Sparks five-hole for his 10th goal.
Barzal’s three-goal game was the first by an Islander against Toronto since Mike Bossy on March 20, 1986.
Tavares , the first pick in the 2009 NHL draft, served as Islanders captain from September 2013 until bolting for the team he cheered for as a kid growing up in Toronto’s suburbs.
He has 26 goals and 18 assists in 39 games with his new team, but saw a six-game point streak (seven goals, four assists) come to an end as his old club got a measure of revenge led by Barzal’s second-career hat trick.
“We weren’t good enough,” Leafs head coach Mike Babcock said. “They gave us a lesson.”
Barzal’s other NHL hat trick came Dec. 23, 2017, against Winnipeg. … Michael Dal Colle, who was recalled from the AHL with Jordan Eberle (upper-body injury) on injured reserve, recorded an assist for his first NHL point in his seventh game.