Wild offense explodes in 6-0 win
UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Minnesota left winger Matt Moulson, playing against his former team for the first time, scored the first and last goals on Tuesday night in an atypical offensive outburst by the Wild in a 6-0 rout of the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum.
Moulson scored 118 goals in four-plus seasons for the Islanders before he was traded to Buffalo in the deal that sent Thomas Vanek to New York on Oct. 29. Moulson was sent to Minnesota on March 5, the same day the Islanders traded Vanek to Montreal.
Defenseman Jared Spurgeon, center Mikael Granlund, defenseman Cayton Stoner and right winter Justin Fontaine all scored a goal each as the Wild, currently the No. 1 wild card in the Western Conference, ensured it would remain at least five points ahead of ninth-place Dallas, pending the Stars’ outcome at Pittsburgh.
The six goals were a season high for Minnesota and its most since a 5-3 win over Washington on Jan. 4. The Wild had scored three goals or less 19 times in its previous 24 games, including its last 12 entering Tuesday.
Goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, making just his second start for the Wild since he was acquired from Edmonton on March 4, made 36 saves in posting his 32nd career shutout.
Islanders goaltender Anders Nilsson made six saves.
The Islanders wasted little time in paying tribute to Moulson. During the first timeout of the first period, the words “Thank you Matt Moulson” were displayed on the scoreboard as the crowd of 14,888 offered a warm ovation.
Unfortunately for the Islanders, Moulson wasted little time in exacting a bit of revenge. A few minutes after the tribute aired, Moulson put the Wild ahead by poking back a rebound of a shot by right winger Justin Fontaine with 8:37 left. The announcement of Moulson’s goal elicited louder cheers than the homage earlier in the period.
The Wild, who were outshot 16-6 in the first period, doubled their lead 3:34 later when Spurgeon, who was drafted by the Islanders in 2008 but never played for New York, sailed a shot over Nilsson’s right shoulder.
Islanders center Anders Lee nearly put the Islanders on the board in the final two minutes of the period but missed consecutive putback attempts in the goal-mouth.
The second period was a largely quiet affair until Granlund took a pass from Wild right winger Jason Pominville, who was stationed behind the net, and went to one knee before threading his shot through two Islanders defensemen and past Nilsson to extend Minnesota’s lead to 3-0 with 3:58 left.
The Wild put the game away with two goals in a span of less than three minutes early in the third. Stoner’s spectacular breakaway goal — he went airborne after being caught from behind by Islanders defenseman Calvin de Haan as he shot and crashed into the boards as the puck sailed past Nilsson — gave Minnesota a 4-0 lead 4:56 into the period.
Fontaine made it 5-0 on a goal that was added upon review at 7:06. The red light had not initially gone on when Fontaine’s shot clanged off the top post, but replays showed it had crossed the red line.
Another rebound goal by Moulson with 3:26 left completed the rout.
NOTES: D Kevin Czuczman, who signed with the Islanders as a college free agent out of Lake Superior State last week, started Tuesday night in his NHL debut. ... Islanders RW Kyle Okposo was named the NHL’s Second Star of the Week on Monday. Okposo scored seven points in three games last week. ... RW Michael Grabner (concussion) was scratched by the Islanders for the third straight game. The Islanders also had four healthy scratches: LW Eric Boulton, D Matt Carkner, D Matt Donovan and D Radek Martinek. ... Wild C Mikko Koivu had three points on Tuesday night to break Marian Gaborik’s record for most points in franchise history.
Gaborik had 437 points from 2000 through 2009. ... The Wild had a trio of healthy scratches — D Keith Ballard, LW Erik Haula and C Mike Rupp — as well as G Niklas Backstrom, who is out for the season with an abdominal injury. ... The Wild, which lost to the Bruins in Boston on Monday, have three more back-to-back sets remaining (March 22-23, March 26-27 and April 7-8)