ATLANTA – It was one of the best games the New York Islanders have played this season, especially for Matt Moulson.
Moulson scored three goals and the Islanders snapped the Atlanta Thrashers’ four-game winning streak with a 4-1 victory on Thursday night.
Moulson, who has a team-leading 14 goals and is tied with rookie John Tavares with a club-best 22 points, finished his first NHL hat trick at 13:09 of the third period to give New York a 3-1 edge. His other two goals came in the second period.
“I love scoring. I love winning. It’s huge, especially against Atlanta, who is playing real well,” said Moulson, in his third NHL season and first with the Islanders. “To hold them to one goal says a lot about our defence.”
Tavares’ 11th goal, scored into an empty net with one second remaining, made it 4-1.
“I thought it was the best 60 minutes that we played in such a tight game,” Islanders coach Scott Gordon said. “He (Moulson) was certainly doing all the right things. He was justly rewarded. He’s always going to get chances. He does not beat himself with poor puck decisions.”
The Thrashers scored first when Slava Kozlov beat New York’s Dwayne Roloson from in close for his fifth goal at 9:01 of the opening period.
“We lost a game at home again. We need to fight a little more for those two points in our building,” goalie Ondrej Pavelec said of the Thrashers, 6-6-2 in Atlanta.
“If we don’t put forward a better effort or more gritty effort, then teams will stay with us and we’ll keep teams around in the games and give them a chance to win,” Thrashers coach John Anderson said. “I’ll bet we had the fewest hits we’ve had all year.”
Moulson’s second goal came when he skated in alone on Pavelec at 15:46 of the period and beat him for a power-play goal.
Kozlov gave the Thrashers their only lead when he converted a pass from Bryan Little, who skated behind the net and fed him the puck in front.
“If you told me going into the game we would hold them to one, I would not be so sure of that,” Gordon said.
The Islanders tied it on a 30-foot shot from Moulson, beating Pavelec in the upper left corner.
NOTES: The Islanders beat the Thrashers 6-3 at home on Nov. 7 in their only other meeting when the Thrashers were missing injured top forward Ilya Kovalchuk. Atlanta is 7-3-1 since Kovalchuk returned from a six-game absence. … The Islanders hadn’t played since a 6-1 loss to New Jersey on Saturday. … The Thrashers had been 10-0 when they scored first.