Since being traded from the New York Islanders to the Buffalo Sabres along with two draft picks in exchange for forward Thomas Vanek more than four months ago, plenty has happened to Minnesota Wild forward Matt Moulson.
But one thing Moulson hasn't done is play against the team with whom he spent four successful seasons. That changes Tuesday when Moulson returns to Nassau Coliseum to take on the Islanders with the Wild, who acquired him from Buffalo at the NHL Trade Deadline along with forward Cody McCormick for draft picks and forward Torrey Mitchell.
"A little weird. I've never been in the visiting room here. It's exciting but an important game for us. We need two points on this trip and to get some wins here," Moulson said after practice Tuesday.
"We had a newborn when we first got traded to Buffalo. My wife had to hold down the fort for a while by herself and figure out all the moving. She did a pretty good job of that. Luckily I had her. It's tough when you're moving back and forth and don't see your family for a while. Hockey's the easiest part for me."
Since starting his Wild tenure with a goal and an assist in two games, Moulson has gone without a point in his past four. Minnesota has gone 1-1-2 in those games but still holds a three-point lead on the Phoenix Coyotes for the first Western Conference wild-card spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"I definitely would like to mix in some more wins and goals to help this team," Moulson said. "It's been an easy transition. It's just little things now. Not thinking so much and just playing. Hopefully we can get that."
The game also will see the return of Nino Niederreiter, who was drafted by the Islanders with the fifth pick of the 2010 NHL Draft and played 64 games with the team before being traded to Minnesota during the summer.
As they have done for much of the past month the Islanders will continue to roll with their younger players. Defenseman Kevin Czuczman, signed last week after completing his season at Lake Superior State University, will make his NHL debut, replacing Matt Carkner. In addition 23-year-old goaltender Anders Nilsson will start for the sixth time in New York's past nine games.
Wild coach Mike Yeo would not comment on his lineup Tuesday, but goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov likely will start considering Darcy Kuemper played Monday in a 4-1 road loss to the Boston Bruins.
Here are the projected lineups for the Wild and Islanders:
Zach Parise - Mikael Granlund - Jason Pominville
Matt Moulson - Mikko Koivu - Charlie Coyle
Matt Cooke - Kyle Brodziak - Nino Niederreiter
Dany Heatley - Erik Haula - Justin Fontaine
Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon
Marco Scandella - Jonas Brodin
Keith Ballard - Clayton Stoner
Scratched: Cody McCormick, Nate Prosser, Mike Rupp
Injured: Josh Harding (illness), Jason Zucker (leg), Niklas Backstrom (abdominal)
Anders Lee - Frans Nielsen - Kyle Okposo
Josh Bailey - Brock Nelson - Cal Clutterbuck
Matt Martin- Ryan Strome - Colin McDonald
Mike Halmo - Casey Cizikas - Johan Sundstrom
Lubomir Visnovsky - Thomas Hickey
Travis Hamonic - Kevin Czuczman
Brian Strait - Calvin de Haan
Scratched: Radek Martinek, Matt Carkner, Matt Donovan, Eric Boulton
Injured: John Tavares (knee), Michael Grabner (concussion)