Tuesday night, Matt Moulson shined in his return to the Nassau Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum, scoring two-goals as Ilya Bryzgalov and the visiting Minnesota Wild shutout the NY Islanders 6-0.
The game marked the return of former Islander Matt Moulson, who was traded away with a conditional 2014 first-round pick and a 2015 second-round pick to the Buffalo Sabres on October 27th for Thomas Vanek. The controversial trade that dealt Moulson to the Sabres early in the season, put the Islanders on their heals as they tried to develop chemistry with Vanek during much of November and December posting a 9-16-3 record. Unfortunately for the Islanders an even bigger issue arose when Vanek declined the NY Islanders offer to sign a long term seven-year contract in favor of testing free agency. Compounding things further, interest in Vanek on the trade market took a hit following the Sochi Olympics Team Austria scandal, and then furthermore when goal scorers such as Marty St. Louis, Ryan Kessler, Matt Moulson, Marian Gaborik and Mike Cammalleri emerged as competing trade prospects. Vanek was dealt to Montreal, Moulson was dealt to Minnesota and the Islanders received a conditional second-round pick and prospect Sebastian Collberg. Ultimately, the Islanders traded Moulson (a perennial 30-goal scorer) and a first-round pick for Sebastian Collberg.
Thirteen days after deadline day, Minnesota and their new acquisitions Matt Moulson and Ilya Bryzgalov, were the difference makers Tuesday night in Uniondale. Moulson led the offense, with two-goals and three-points, much to the delight of Islander and Wild fans in attendance. Bryzgalov saw 36-shots on the night, and blanked the frustrated Islanders after 60 minutes of play.
The Wild managed to score six times on Islanders goaltender Anders Nilsson. Nilsson saw 22 shots and stopped 16 on the night against the Wild, who came into the game 28th in scoring in the NHL. After sustained offensive pressure by the Islanders for much of the first period, Moulson tallied the first goal of the night on a rebound from Justin Fontaine’s shot. Three minutes later, Dany Heatley would find former NY Islander draft pick Jared Spurgeon at the top of the right faceoff circle for a slapshot that would go past Nilsson’s glove hand. Though the Islanders out-shot the Wild 16-6, the Islanders would go into the locker room down 2-0.
Things would not get better from there, in the second period Mikael Granlund snuck into the slot uncovered and one-time a wrist shot past Nilsson’s glove for a 3-0 lead. Then later in the third period, Mikko Koivu sprung Clayton Stoner for a breakaway goal, and after a video review Justin Fontaine would score on a wrist shot past Anders Nilsson. As if a five-goal lead wasn’t enough Matt Moulson would score again , burying another rebound and leading the crowd to cheer “We want Moulson!”.
The good news for the Islanders on the night was that they debuted their newest signing 6’3″, 205 pound Defenseman Kevin Czuczman of Lake Superior State University, the Alma-mater of Assistant Coach Doug Weight. The young defenseman didn’t look out of place on the Coliseum ice, but unfortunately for the 23-year old Czuczman, his first-career NHL game he would be out on the ice for two-Wild goals. Even though he had poor showing on the stats sheet, Czuczman will see more ice time following the game against the Wild, as defenseman Brian Strait was diagnosed with a broken left hand, caused when he blocked a shot during the second-period. Strait will now join both John Tavares (knee) and Michael Grabner (concussion) on IR.
At the end of the night Matt Moulson was named first star in his first game back at NVMC, his Wild teammates nudged him to acknowledge the fans, he raised his stick and gave a nod as the crowd cheered “We want Moulson”.
The Minnesota Wild move to 36-23-10 for 82pts, and the NY Islanders move to 26-35-9 for 61 pts.
The Wild will continue their roadtrip to New Jersey where they will play the NJ Devils at the Prudential Center on Thursday at 7-pm. The NY Islanders will have four days to recover before playing their Metro Division rival Columbus Blue Jackets at Nassau Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum on Sunday at 1-pm.
Three Stars of the Game
1) Matt Moulson
2) Ilya Bryzgalov
3) Mikko Koivu