Less than two weeks ago, Scott Gordon saw Phoenix Coyotes goaltender Jason LaBarbera in the opposing net and opted to use Matt Moulson against him in the sixth round of the shootout.
Gordon knew Moulson had experience against his former L.A. Kings teammate and played a hunch.
Moulson not only notched that game-winner six games ago, but has also added two shootout goals since, including the decisive tally in last night's 2-1 shootout victory over the Panthers.
“I always want to be the guy that ends the game with a win,” Moulson said. “I kind of accept that role and it’s probably one of the most exciting things in the game, going one-on-one with the goalie.”
Frans Nielsen shot first, opting for his tried-and-true backhander, but was stopped by Panthers goaltender Tomas Vokoun. Dwayne Roloson repaid the favor by blanking Rostislav Olesz and Rob Schremp lifted the puck over Vokoun's left pad to give the Islanders a 1-0 edge in the second round.
Roloson came up with another stop against Michael Frolik, giving Moulson the chance to win the game in the Islanders eleventh shootout of the season.
Moulson went top shelf against Vokoun for his second game-winning shootout goal in six games and deferred some credit to his younger brother, Chris, a freshman hockey player at Cornell University.
“My brother taught me that move,” Moulson said. “He copyrighted it.”
Moulson's goal gave the team their seventh win in the past nine games and helped improve their record to 23-20-8.
The win also effectively stopped the team’s most recent loss—a 6-4 defeat against Pittsburgh on Tuesday—from turning into something worse.
“We talked before the game how important it was not to let one loss turn into a losing streak and get back to doing really well,” Moulson said.
The Islanders also channeled some reasonable frustration about the third-period officiating into a positive force.
In a whistle-scarce game, the first penalty wasn’t called until 4:19 in the third period, when Jon Sim was whistled for slashing Vokoun.
Sim was whistled again at 8:29 on a suspect interference call after being pushed into Vokoun by Panthers defenseman Keith Ballard.
Kyle Okposo even directed his ire at a referee in an uncharacteristic display after being hammered in the back and hoisted into a pileup in the crease by Stephen Weiss.
"As upset as they might have been, there was a lot emotion on the bench and it was positive," Gordon said.
Despite some aggravating calls, the Islanders received a lift from their penalty kill on both third-period penalties.
The Islanders didn’t receive a power-play of their own until Mark Streit was clipped in the face and Radek Dvorak went to the box for high-sticking at 13:37.
But that was all the love the Islanders got from referees.
Blake Comeau, who answered Nathan Horton’s snapshot goal and tied the game 1-1 with his second-period slapshot, was the target of a ticky-tacky slashing call at 1:26 in overtime that gave the Panthers a prime opportunity to win the game.
However, Roloson, who finished the night with 33 saves, made several big stops while the Panthers had the man-advantage and the penalty-kill delivered a rousing and gutsy effort to set the Islanders back on track.
“That’s not allowing a roller-coaster ride into your season,” Roloson said. “For us it’s key. We just have to keep playing with that attitude and keep moving up in the standings.”