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Moulson scores hat trick in Isles 5-1 win over Panthers

Tomas Vokoun is neither friend nor family, but evidently Matt Moulson did not need the extra motivation.

Two days after besting his brother-in-law-- Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick--with a pair of goals in the Islanders win over LA, Moulson scored his second career hat trick to lift the Islanders in a 5-1 victory over the Panthers. With their sixth win in seven games, the Islanders are now only 11 points out of the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference.

Moulson’s hat trick—which propelled him to 26 goals on the season—was his first this season. The 27-year-old winger also tallied three for a natural hat trick on December 3, 2009 against Atlanta.

Moulson trickled the puck through Vokoun’s pads for a 1-0 Islanders lead at 7:40 and reached No. 25 later in the period.From one knee at the left circle, Moulson sent a blistering one-timer past Vokoun at 14:58 to grab a share in the team’s goal-scoring race. Moulson’s third goal was an empty-netter with 2:37 to play in the third period.

“My linemates made great plays,” Moulson said. “The first one, [Tavares] battled and made the pass and [Parenteau] made a great play on the second one, so I didn’t have to do too much. And then the empty net [goal]…I had three kind of easy ones.”

Moulson’s trio pulled him ahead of Michael Grabner’s 25 goals for the team lead. Right behind Moulson and Grabner with 23 is John Tavares; the Islanders are the only team in the NHL that have three players with 23 goals or more.

Has that created some healthy competition?

“I think I’d be lying if I said it didn’t,” Moulson said.

With the Islanders up by two goals in the first, Stephen Weiss was slapped with a game misconduct for his elbow to the head on defenseman Radek Martinek.

Martinek showed some uncharacteristic snarl, staring down Weiss as he was helped toward the bench by head trainer Garrett Timms.

But the veteran defenseman channeled that anger into his slapshot from the blue line on the resulting five-minute power-play 37 seconds into the second period.

“I think it was stupid to do that,” Martinek said, although he could hardly suppress a smile when talking about the team’s success lately.

“I’m just so happy with how we’re playing,” Martinek said, beaming. “It just seems like we’re doing everything so easy. I don’t know why we didn’t play like that two months ago.”

Goaltender Al Montoya, acquired via trade from Phoenix earlier this month, secured his second straight win with a 20-save effort against the Panthers.

Montoya, 26, is now 3-0-0 in four games played for the Islanders this season.

Josh Bailey also chipped in with a goal in the second period, faking out a Panthers defenseman and scooting through the slot for a 4-0 Islanders lead at 6:41. Defenseman Travis Hamonic finished the game with two assists.

The Islanders have now scored at least three goals in nine straight games, the longest streak since a ten-game run from February 27 to March 17, 1994.

“They’re doing the right things and when you do the right things, you get rewarded,” coach Jack Capuano said. “They’re shooting pucks and good things happen when you get pucks to the net.” 

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