Matt Moulson scored three times while Al Montoya made 20 saves as the New York Islanders cruised to a 5-1 win over the Florida Panthers during a holiday matinee at the Nassau Coliseum Monday. The Isles are now 6-1-0 in their last seven games.
The Islanders jumped all over the Panthers early, outshooting Florida 16-3 in the first period. After Moulson hit a post early, he scored his first two goals in the opening period. The first one came off a good pass by John Tavares at 7:35 while P.A. Parenteau’s play set up Moulson’s one-timer from the left circle at 14:58. An empty net goal late in the third period completed Molson’s second career NHL hat trick.
“It was three kind of easy ones,” Moulson said. “My linemates made good plays out there. On the first one, Johnny battled and made a pass out and P.A. made a play on the second one. The third one came into an empty net so I didn’t have to do too much.”
Trailing 2-0 late in the first period, the Panthers chances of a comeback were dealt a significant blow when they lost one of their top forwards for the remainder of the game. Stephen Weiss delivered a high elbow to Isles’ defenseman Radek Martinek’s head and was assessed a major elbowing penalty and a game misconduct. The league will certainly review the play to determine if any supplemental discipline is appropriate.
Martinek himself scored on the ensuing power play when his shot from just inside the blueline went in off of the body of Florida’s Jack Skille just 37 seconds into the second period. The Isles led at that point 3-0.
Josh Bailey made it 4-0 Islanders about six minutes later when he followed his own deflected pass and beat Florida goalie Tomas Vokoun high over the shoulder.
The Panthers finally carried the play for parts of the third period, but it was too late to anything more than break Al Montoya’s bid for a second straight shutout. Mike Santorelli scored a power play goal midway through the third to get Florida on the board, but it was all they could muster.
The Isles were pleased with Montoya’s play.
“He’s playing with a lot of confidence and he’s made a lot of big and timely saves for us,” forward Josh Bailey said. “If he can keep that up, we’re going to win more than we’re losing.”
Montoya was again quick to praise his teammates. “We came right out of the gate and they made it easy for me,” he said. “I’m just playing and just showing that night after night I’m going to give my best. Who knows what the outcome is going to be? I’m just going to leave it out there and show that I can play in this league. This is fun.”
Isles Coach Jack Capuano has been very pleased with his club’s recent play.
“When you do the right things, you get rewarded,” Capuano said. “Guys are playing within the guidelines we’re giving them and they’re shooting pucks. It’s attention to detail on their part. There’s a lot of belief and a lot of camaraderie in that room. They believe in what we are trying to preach.”
The Islanders return to action Tuesday night when they travel to Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs.
Bruno Gervais and Rob Schremp were the Isles scratches while Trevor Gillies remains suspended. Matt Martin returned to the lineup for the first time since completing his suspension and registered three hits in 11:03 of ice time.
Moulson’s previous NHL hat trick came December 3, 2009 in Atlanta. He now has five goals in his last two games.
The Islanders had 23 blocked shots, led by Jack Hillen with six.