The Islanders left winger scored his first career hat trick as the Islanders defeated the Atlanta Thrashers, 4-1 in the second game of a five game road trip.
“He had a big game for us. It was good to see,” Islanders Head Coach Scott Gordon said. “I thought everybody played well. It was probably our best collective 60 minutes in a game that was real tight. To basically shut them down for the most part was huge.”
With the Islanders trailing by one goal in the second period, Moulson started his scoring just 1:47 into the middle frame, as he tied things up for the Islanders with his team-leading 12th goal of the year.
Moulson skated into the Thrashers zone and waited for his teammates to join him following a line changed. However, the Atlanta defense scaled back a bit because the Islander left winger is not known for his long-range shots. However, Moulson made the Thrashers second-guess that move, and let a slap-shot rip from the top of the faceoff circle that found its way over Atlanta goaltender Ondrej Pavelec's shoulder to tie the game up at 1-1.
Islanders coach Scott Gordon credits Moulson's success this year to just constantly wanting it more.
“He's making the most of his opportunity,” Gordon said. “It's one thing to get it, but to go out there and perform well every single game is a credit to him.”
Moulson scored his second of the game on the power play with 4:14 left in the second period. The play wouldn't have started without a brilliant move to stay onside by Trent Hunter.
Hunter received a Kyle Okposo lead pass, but had to reach behind him and managed to keep his skate along the blue line. As he entered the zone, Hunter drew three Atlanta defenders towards him and immediately fed the puck over to a streaking Moulson. Moulson took the pass and broke in on Pavelec, cut across and fired a wrist shot over Pavelec's blocker to give the Islanders a 2-1 lead.
“I don't know how he (Hunter) saw me there,” Moulson said. “He had two guys on him, but it was a great backhand saucer pass right to me. It kind of rolled on me a bit, but I just shoveled it in there.”
Moulson was at it again in the third period, scoring his first career hat trick with 6:51 left in the third period. He was in his usual spot - right in front of the net - as Mark Streit took a booming slapshot from the blue line. Moulson managed to get the shaft of his stick on the shot and deflected it into the top left hand corner of the net for his 14th goal of the season and third of the game to give the Islanders a 3-1 lead.
““It was a nice shot by Mark, I just got a little piece of it,” Moulson said.
John Tavares also added an empty net goal for good reason with 0.5 seconds left for his 11th goal of the year to pad the final to 4-1.
Slava Kozlov scored the only goal for the Thrashers, his fifth goal of the season.
Three Stars of the Game:
1. Matt Moulson, NYI: First career hat trick. 2. Kyle Okposo, NYI: Two assists, four shots 3. Vyacheslav Kozlov, ATL: Scored Atlanta's only goal
Slapshots: Both teams were tied in shots, 27-27...Islanders were 1-for-3 on the power play, while the Thrashers were unsuccessful on two man advantages...Mark Streit led all Islanders with 28:43 of ice time...Rob Schremp and Blake Comeau (both healthy) were the Islanders scratches...This was the second meeting of the year between these teams, with the Islanders taking the first matchup in a 6-3 win at the Coliseum on November 7...Islanders now hold a 21-13-4 all time record against the Thrashers...This was the first game that Atlanta has lost when scoring the first goal of the game (previously 10-0-0).