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Isles' Moulson just finds ways to score

by John Kreiser
He doesn't have great speed or a big shot. All Matt Moulson does is find a way to score goals.

Despite playing with the New York Islanders, one of the NHL's weakest offensive teams, Moulson is on a roll after becoming the first player in the League this season to score four goals in a game. He connected twice in the first period and two more times in the second on Saturday night in a 5-4 victory at Dallas. It was the first four-goal game of his career.

Matt Moulson
Left Wing - NYI
GOALS: 13 | ASST: 6 | PTS: 19
SOG: 61 | +/-: 2
Moulson has scored seven times during a four-game goal-scoring streak. His 13 goals are tops on the Islanders and have him on target for his third consecutive 30-goal season -- pretty good for a guy who was signed as a minor-league free agent before the 2009-10 season. He may not be fast or flashy, but Moulson keeps finding a way to put the puck in the net more than all but a handful of players in the NHL.

Five up — Five players who are playing well:

Jimmy Howard -- Like Moulson, Howard doesn't get many style points -- he just keeps the puck out of Detroit's net as the wins pile up. Howard has been in goal every night during Detroit's seven-game winning streak, allowing just 12 goals in that stretch.

Evander Kane -- Kane is showing why the Atlanta Thrashers (now the Winnipeg Jets) took him with the fourth pick in the 2009 NHL Draft. He had a pair of two-goal games last week, sandwiched around an assist on Winnipeg's only goal in a 1-0 win. His 14 goals lead the Jets and are tied for sixth in the NHL.

David Krejci -- Here's a scary thought for the rest of the NHL: Krejci was struggling to score during most of November, when the Boston Bruins went 12-0-1. He scored five points and was plus-4 in Boston's back-to-back victories against Toronto last week.

Milan Michalek -- Now that he's healthy, Michalek is filling the net. He had four goals in Ottawa's three games last week to move into a tie for the League lead with 16.

Semyon Varlamov -- After a three-game break last month, Varlamov has come back strong for the Colorado Avalanche. He went 2-1-0 last week and has allowed just nine goals on 151 shots in his last five appearances.

Five down — Five players who are struggling:

Martin Brodeur -- This past week may have been the toughest of Brodeur's career. He allowed three first-period goals and on 25 shots overall in New Jersey's 6-1 loss at Colorado on Wednesday, then was yanked Friday in Minnesota after allowing three goals on four shots in the first 8:17 of a 4-2 loss. It was the second-fastest removal of his career.

Mike Knuble -- Alex Ovechkin's struggles to score have gotten a lot of attention in Washington, but role players like Knuble haven't been generating much offense either. The 39-year-old has gone 14 games without a point and is minus-9 during that span.

Sheldon Souray
Defense - DAL
GOALS: 4 | ASST: 9 | PTS: 13
SOG: 76 | +/-: 8
Sheldon Souray -- The hard-shooting defenseman had 12 points in his first 14 games with Dallas before going cold. He's gone 12 games without a point and is minus-3 in his last four games.

Cam Ward -- The coaching change in Carolina this past week didn't help Ward, who lost twice after Kirk Muller took over, allowing seven goals. Overall, he's 0-4-1 in his last five games, allowing 16 goals.

Patrik Hornqvist -- The Nashville forward has 11 points this season -- all during a seven-game streak that ended on Nov. 9. Since then, he's gone without a point in 11 games and is minus-4 in that span.

Injuries, news and notes -- For the second time in as many weeks, a player returned from a lengthy concussion-related absence. This time, it was St. Louis' David Perron, who played Saturday for the first time in more than a year.

Out -- Los Angeles lost center Mike Richards (upper body) and defenseman Willie Mitchell (upper body) on Thursday. … Calgary lost defenseman Mark Giordano indefinitely with partially ruptured tendons in his left leg. He's not expected to be evaluated against for about three weeks. Minnesota forward Cal Clutterbuck missed Friday's game with a charley horse. … Pittsburgh spent the week without top-four defensemen Kris Letang and Zbynek Michalek; Letang has been battling a virus while dealing with the effects of a hit to the head last Saturday, while Michalek is dealing with a head injury. … Nashville placed forward Blake Geoffrion on IR with an arm injury. He was injured Monday in Edmonton. Forward Sergei Kostitsyn didn't play Saturday due to an upper-body injury. … St. Louis put forward Evgeny Grachev on IR with an eye injury suffered in practice last week. … Buffalo defenseman Jordan Leopold missed the Sabres' weekend games after going down with an upper-body injury on Tuesday. Nathan Gerbe sat our Saturday after taking a skate to the face on Friday, and Patrick Kaleta (groin) sat out Saturday after trying to play on Friday. … Vancouver forward Aaron Volpatti tore the labrum in his right shoulder and will miss the rest of the season. … Minnesota placed defenseman Justin Falk on IR with back spasms. … Islanders forward Nino Niederreiter left Saturday's game with concussion-like symptoms after a big hit in the first period, and goaltender Rick DiPietro left after two periods with a groin injury, and forward Michael Grabner left in the third, also with a groin problem. They'll all be evaluated Sunday.

Returning -- Also returning from a concussion and whiplash was Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller, who dressed Friday night and played on Saturday. He hadn't played since a collision with Boston's Milan Lucic on Nov. 12. Forward Tyler Ennis also returned Friday after missing a month with an ankle injury. … Vancouver forward Mason Raymond is set to make his season debut on Sunday; he hasn't played since suffering a broken vertebra in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. … Toronto goaltender James Reimer played Saturday for the first time in six weeks; he hadn't taken the ice in a game since leaving after being hit in the head during a collision on Oct. 22. … Columbus forward Kristian Huselius made his season debut on Friday. Huselius missed 25 games after tearing a pectoral muscle while working out during the summer. … Los Angeles activated forward Dustin Penner (hand) from IR for Saturday's game. … Philadelphia center Brayden Schenn played Friday after missing 14 games with a broken foot. … Edmonton defenseman Andy Sutton returned Wednesday after missing seven games with a groin injury. … Ottawa forward Chris Neil was back in the lineup on Saturday; he missed eight games with a high ankle sprain.

Still out -- Rangers defenseman Marc Staal was able to skate last week, but he's still nowhere near ready to return from the concussion that has kept him from playing all season. … Montreal defenseman Andrei Markov's return from knee surgery will take a little longer; the Canadiens said Saturday that he will have arthroscopic surgery on the same knee and will miss another few weeks. … Toronto forward Mike Brown had back surgery on Friday and won't be back until well into January. … Washington defenseman Mike Green is skating on his own but still isn't ready to return from the groin injury that's kept him out since Nov. 11. … Edmonton's Taylor Hall is able to skate but is still a couple of weeks away from being able to return from the shoulder injury he suffered on Nov. 27. … Dallas goaltender Kari Lehtonen, placed on IR last week with a groin injury, is expected to miss at least another three weeks. Defenseman Alex Goligoski got the cast off his broken thumb last week and could be back when the Stars resume play on Thursday. Dallas hopes captain Brenden Morrow will be able to play this weekend in California; he's missed the Stars' last six games with a back injury. … Philadelphia defenseman Chris Pronger has begun rehabbing his surgically repaired knee; he's not likely to return until after Christmas at the earliest. … San Jose goaltender Antero Niittymaki returned to practice on Wednesday and hopes to be back before year's end as he rehabs from hip surgery that has kept him from playing this season. … Kings forward Scott Parse, who has played just nine goals this season, will undergo hip surgery and isn't likely to return until the playoffs, if at all this season. … Minnesota defenseman Marek Zidlicky is skating again as he works to return from a concussion, but he didn't accompany the Wild on its West Coast trip.

The week ahead -- Every team except the Dallas Stars plays at least three games, and seven clubs play four.

Games to watch:

Boston at Pittsburgh (Dec. 5) -- Two of the East's best meet for the first time this season when the red-hot Bruins come to the Consol Energy Center.

Detroit at St. Louis (Dec. 6; Versus/TSN2) -- It's hard to say which of these Central Division rivals has been hotter. The Blues' stubborn defense will provide a tough test for the talent Wings' forwards.

Pittsburgh at Philadelphia (Dec. 8; NHL Network-US) -- The NHL's two Pennsylvania teams also get together for the first time this season.

Edmonton at Calgary (Dec. 10; CBC) -- The Oilers and Flames meet for the second consecutive Saturday, this time at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

San Jose at Chicago (Dec. 11; NHL Network-Canada) -- The Hawks will be looking to avenge a 1-0  loss at San Jose on Thanksgiving Eve when the Sharks come to the United Center for the first time this season.

Tough week ahead:

Carolina Hurricanes -- It's off to Western Canada for the struggling 'Canes, who will try to find their game during stops in Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg.

Minnesota Wild -- The swing through California that the Wild began on Sunday in Anaheim continues with stops in San Jose and Los Angeles before the week ends with a visit to Phoenix.

Phoenix Coyotes -- There will be lots of hockey and lots of travel for the Coyotes; they start the week with back-to-back games in Chicago and Nashville, then play at Detroit on Thursday before hosting Minnesota two days later.

Easy week ahead:

Buffalo Sabres -- The Sabres play three games in four nights -- including back-to-back contests against Florida on Friday and the Rangers on Saturday -- but they're all at the First Niagara Center.

Calgary Flames -- The Flames get to spend the week at home hosting three teams that begin the week outside the top eight in their conferences.

St. Louis Blues -- The Blues continue their five-game homestand and should pack the Scottrade Center for visits from Detroit, Anaheim and San Jose.
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