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It seems now a days, with each game the Isles play a new player is stepping up to be the hero. Against the Panthers on Monday afternoon, it was Matt Moulson.
Moulson scored two consecutive goals in the first period, and added an empty netter with a couple of minutes left in the 3rd to get his 5th multi-goal game of the season as the Isles won 5-1.
The win was the Isles sixth in their last seven tried, and they moved one point behind the New Jersey Devils, whom many people are talking about as a team that is still in the playoff conversation.
The task is very tall, but the Islanders are taking all the necessary steps. The fact that this team came out hard for a matinee game when those haven't been the kindest to this team in recent years - especially those against opponents they should handle well - is a very encouraging sign.
There weren't many weak points in the game, and the Isles had a really complete effort once again. Aside from Moulson, Josh Bailey was a standout to me. His goal was a thing of beauty and the move is something he is starting to pull off a little bit more. For him, it's all about the consistency. Earlier this season, we saw play like this and then it came to a sudden halt. Will he be able to sustain it for more than just these few games?
John Tavares was a standout too, more because of his individual plays along the boards and uncanny ability to hold the puck deep in the zone. We saw him make Dennis Wideman look silly on one particular play in the corner, where Wideman didn't even know where the puck had gone. Tavares is developing some decent speed to go with that skill he has. A little more work on the skating in the offseason and he's going to be a superstar for sure.
Al Montoya was solid once again when he had to be. He had a couple of sketchy moments playing the puck in the third, but nothing cost him or the team. Just watch out for that in a game where the score is closer.
All in all, a fun day for a large crowd that was on hand. The Isles travel to Toronto for a game right away on Tuesday night before heading to Philly on Thursday. The tests get tougher for the team, but they need to take it one game at a time. Apparently a big crowd is already expected for Saturday against the Washington capitals. Three out of four points on this mini road trip could make it even larger, with a bigger contingent of Isles fans.