The New York Islanders earned two more points in the standings on Saturday night as they blanked the Los Angeles Kings 3-0 at Nassau Coliseum. Five minutes into the game, Frans Nielsen’s shorthanded goal set the pace, but two goals from Matt Moulson and a shutout performance by Al Montoya, the Islanders lifted their record in the month of February to 7-3-0 and 22-30-7 overall.
“Our team came out and played hard,” Montoya said. “We knew this was going to be a good team tonight. We controlled their momentum swings. We came out in the first wanting to win this game and we showed that. They came back and pushed in the second, but we held our ground, did a good job and took care of business.”
Not only did the win successfully end the Kings (32-23-4) 11-game point streak, Moulson scored two goals against his brother-in-law Jonathan Quick and helped the Islanders defeat the Kings on home ice for the first time in more than a decade (Oct. 27, 1998).
“No talking today,” Moulson said. “We had dinner yesterday, but he didn’t let me cook. He thought I was going to put something in there. So we went to our in-laws, went to neutral ground and had a good dinner. (I was) lucky to get a couple on him.”
At 13:40 of third period, Moulson scored his second goal of the night when PA Parenteau found the winger camped out in the slot. In the second period, Moulson would take his time to set up a shot, scoring his first goal against Quick since Oct. 12, 2009.
And while the feat will definitely give the forward some bragging rights, Moulson said he won’t be the one delivering the punches.
Matt Moulson #26 of the New York Islanders scores his second goal of the game firing the puck past defensemen Matt Greene #2 of the Los Angeles Kings on February 19, 2011 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)
“He wasn’t bragging when he shut me out, so I think I’ll just keep it low key.”
Even though he won’t be boasting, Moulson had more to say. Early in the first period, he hit the post on a breakaway and scoring was on his mind from that point forward.
“I would’ve been having some bad dreams after hitting the crossbar on that breakaway,” Moulson said. “It was good to get those two (goals) and the win.”
In his first start in an Islanders sweater and first NHL start in almost two years (April 9, 2009 with Phoenix), Montoya stood on his head. Only facing seven shots in the first period, Montoya defended the shutout through the final two periods, as he made 28 saves to keep the Islanders in the game (for 35 total saves).
“I had nothing to lose,” Montoya said about his performance. “I play the game with nothing to lose. Maybe I should have more starts under my belt, but I don’t look at it like that. I come out here to give this team a chance and I don’t want nerves to get the best of me. I left it all out on the ice and that was my mindset going into the game.”
But once again, the Islanders penalty killing unit with Michael Grabner, Frans Nielsen, Andrew MacDonald and Travis Hamonic came up big. When Grabner stole the puck in the defensive zone and sent Nielsen on a breakaway, they established enough momentum to carry the Islanders through the rest of the game
“We just try to be aggressive,” Nielsen said. “When they have those bouncing pucks, we try to release. We know we’re not going to have any back checking from the forwards because they’re on power play.”
He continued, “It’s fun to score. I don’t get too many of them. Grabner has a lot of them now, so it’s nice that it’s finally my turn.”
As he fired a wrist shot through the slot at 5:01, Nielsen scored glove side to take a 1-0 lead. It turned out to be the game-winner, but it held even more meaning for the Isles center. Nielsen would become the first player in the National Hockey League to score five shorthanded goals this season.
“I don’t know why I’m only scoring shorthanded,” Nielsen said. “Me and Grabs (Grabner) try to be very aggressive there, and sometimes they don’t have a back checker, and D’s try to pinch on the blue line on a 50-50 puck. Sometimes you get those 2-on-1s, 1-on-1s shorthanded. We’ve been getting some chances.”