The NHL and twittersphere lit up Saturday night, when New York Islanders winger Matt Moulson scored four goals in the Islanders 5-4 victory over the Dallas Stars. After scoring two goals in the first period, Moulson completed the hat trick only six minutes into the second and added his fourth goal with a few minutes remaining in the middle period. While the Dallas Stars fans at the American Airlines Center may have been surprised to see an offensive outburst from a non-household name, any Islanders fan watching the game knew that Moulson has the chance to excel every night.
Originially drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the ninth round of the 2003 draft, Moulson did not step on the NHL ice until the 2007-08 season, when he was a member of the Los Angeles Kings. In his two seasons with the Kings, Moulson recorded six goals in 29 games.
In 2009 the Islanders scooped up the rather unknown Moulson, and gave him a shot to show what he could do. Obviously someone in the Islanders organization was paying attention, as Moulson was a star from his first days on Long Island. Playing in all 82 games in both his seasons with the Islanders so far, Moulson has put up 30 and 31 goals respectively. This season, through 24 games, Moulson has put up 13 goals, putting him on pace to finish the season with 44 goals.
To those that have had the opportunity to watch Moulson play, his four goal outburst was not a surprise. Although Moulson does not have the moves of a John Tavares or the speed of Michal Grabner, he has the best hockey sense on the team. None of the four goals were flashy plays by Moulson that made defenders look silly, they were all plays where Moulson was at the right place at the right time. Some would call this luck, but with Moulson it is smarts.
One example of this high hockey I.Q. was on the goal scored by Moulson that came off a missed shot by John Tavares. Moulson very quickly read the ricochet off the back boards, and quickly went to the other side of the net where he was able to easily deposit the rebound. The first goal of the game was another typical Moulson goal, with a shot coming from the point on the power-play and Moulson waiting in front of the net for the rebound. Although this may not be the pretty goals Brad Richards and Sidney Crosby but in, it still counts the same.
The NHL finally took notice of Matt Moulson on Saturday, and fortunately for the Islanders they have him locked up for this season and another two, because grinders who put up goals are often hard to come by around the league.