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Islanders beat Panthers on Moulson's shootout goal

Islanders left wing Matt Moulson scores the game-winning

Islanders left wing Matt Moulson scores the game-winning goal in a shootout goal against Florida goalie Tomas Vokoun. (Jan. 21, 2010) Credit: Christopher Pasatieri

Less than two weeks ago, with Jason LaBarbera in net for the Phoenix Coyotes, Islanders coach Scott Gordon opted to use Matt Moulson in the sixth round of the shootout.

Gordon knew Moulson had experience against his former Los Angeles Kings teammate and played a hunch.

Moulson not only notched that game-winner six games ago but has added two shootout goals since, including the deciding 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," he 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 Islanders' 11th shootout of the season. He went top shelf against Vokoun for the winner, then gave some credit to his brother Chris, a freshman hockey player at Cornell. "My brother taught me that move," he said. "He copyrighted it."

Moulson's goal gave the Islanders their seventh win in the past nine games and helped improve their record to 23-20-8.

It also effectively stopped the team's most recent defeat - a 6-4 loss to 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 the officials in an uncharacteristic display after being hammered in the back and hoisted into a pileup in the crease by Stephen Weiss.

The Islanders received a lift from their penalty kill on both penalties. "As upset as they might have been,'' Gordon said, "there was a lot of emotion on the bench and it was positive.''

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 the referees.

Blake Comeau, who answered Nathan Horton's snapshot goal and tied the score at 1 in the second period, was called for a questionable slash at 1:36 of overtime, giving the Panthers a prime opportunity to win the game.

But Roloson made several big saves 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."

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