The Islanders introduced a new defenseman to the roster on Tuesday, but his first career game was spoiled by a number of missed opportunities in the midst of a decisive loss.
Recently signed defenseman Kevin Czuczman made his NHL debut on the Isles blueline. Far from looking out of place, the 23-year-old Lake Superior (CCHA) alumnus took a regular turn in the rotation, skating an impressive 20:06 and seeing time with both special teams in his rookie outing. Czuczman recorded two PIMs and three blocked shots. But his first game was overshadowed by the lopsided 6-0 defeat and the return of a familiar face.
Former Islander winger and fan favorite Matt Moulson made his return to the Nassau Coliseum on Tuesday and played perhaps his best game of the season.
Moulson, who was picked up at the trade deadline by the Minnesota Wild, scored twice and added an assist in a 6-0 rout over the Islanders It was his first game against his former team since being dealt to Buffalo for Thomas Vanek on October 27. The long-time linemate of John Tavares spent the most productive years of his career with the Isles, recording 118 goals and 257 points in 304 games with the team.
Moulson opened the scoring at 12:23 of the opening frame, scoring what would ultimately stand as the game winner. Then with just 3:26 left in the game his second marker of the evening bookend the Wild’s scoring and added insult to injury. It was his 20th of the campaign, and earned him the game’s first star honors.
Despite outshooting and outhitting the opposition, the Isles were soundly defeated where it counts – on the scoreboard. Forwards Kyle Okposo and Brock Nelson both had four-game point streaks broken, while Anders Lee and Frans Nielsen both ended three-game streaks. For Lee, it was just the second time in seven outings where he failed to record at least one point.
In addition to the loss, the Isles missed out on a few potential milestones, though only one realistically had any chance of happening. Okposo missed out on scoring a milestone goal; entered the contest just one goal shy of 100. Injured winger Michael Grabner needs 13 goals for 100, and healthy scratch Radek Martinek is 14 short of 500 games played.
Following Tuesday’s game the Isles embark on an extended break, playing their next game in a matinee on Sunday against the Columbus Blue Jackets followed by a two-game road trip with stops in Carolina on Tuesday and Tampa Bay on Thursday.
~ JP (@Joe_SoWhatElse)