Buffalo Sabres wing Matt Moulson’s first few weeks in Buffalo were a whirlwind, but he’s now had time to settle in not only with the team, but with the city as well.
Offensively, things are coming are coming around, too. He scored the game-winning goal on the power play early in the third period Tuesday night in the Sabres’ 4-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets. He’s scored in back-to-back games.
The Sabres have been generating more and more offensive chances the past few games and they were finally able to break out with a four-goal performance against Winnipeg. Moulson’s goal came when he parked himself in front of the net and deflected in a point shot by defenseman Christian Ehrhoff.
“Obviously when pucks are going in, you feel pretty good about yourself and when that confidence is there, it feels like they’re going in more and more,” Moulson said. “We just have to keep getting pucks there, keep getting guys there and keep getting those dirty goals and eventually we’ll get that confidence in scoring.”
Moulson's made a big impression on interim coach Ted Nolan, who joined the team on Nov. 13.
“I’ve really come to admire him not only as a player, but as a man. He’s a true pro,” Nolan said. “He comes to work. He has a great demeanor about him. He seems to really enjoy the game. He’s one of those guys you like to have on your team for sure.”
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The Sabres acquired Moulson and two draft picks from the New York Islanders on Oct. 27 for co-captain Thomas Vanek. Moulson scored on his first shot as a Sabre the next night and added a second goal later in the game. He’s currently atop Buffalo’s scoring leaderboard with 12 goals and 22 points through 32 games. He has six goals and seven assists in his 21 games as a Sabre.
A few days after arriving in Buffalo, the Sabres traveled downstate to play the New York Rangers. While they were there, Moulson told reporters he was able to go home to grab some personal items, including a winter jacket.
Since then, he’s brought back most everything he’d need to prepare for the cold months ahead.
“I don’t think I brought too many clothes. I usually wear the same things over and over again,” he said. “But I don’t mind the snow at all. I obviously grew up with a lot of snow so it’s kind of a nice change to see some snow. I have to get my daughter acclimated to the cold weather and snow though.”
Moulson and his wife had their second child just a few weeks before he was traded. Initially, it was difficult for him to be away, but now his family is settled in Western New York.
He credits members of the organization and his teammates’ families for helping with the transition.
“I think everyone here, all the wives and other families here and [owners] Terry and Kim [Pegula] have made my family feel extremely welcome,” he said. “I know they do that with everyone so it definitely makes it a lot easier to concentrate on hockey when you’re treated so well and you enjoy being where you’re being.”
Moulson grew up just over the border in Mississauga, Ont. and said he attended both Bills and Sabres games as a kid. He’s been to one Bills game this year and was able to see a victory.
“I’m 1-0 right now,” he said. “One game, one win.”
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Through various trips across the border, Moulson was pretty familiar with the area before he started playing for the Sabres. However, there are still a few things he’s learning about.
“I think the one thing I definitely did not know about Buffalo was all the good restaurants. There’s a lot of good food in Buffalo,” he said. “I thought it was all chicken wings – and great wings, obviously – but there are a lot of other great restaurants. It’s been a lot of fun to get around and see all of them.”
His sister attended Niagara University to play hockey, but he says she never told him about Western New York’s wide variety of fine dining options.
“I don’t think she could afford too many restaurants when she was in college,” he said with a smile. “She told me about Chippewa Street, but that’s about it.”
Moulson was drafted in the fourth round of the 2004 National Lacrosse League Entry Draft by the Rochester Knighthawks. Although he ultimately made the decision to play hockey professionally instead, he said he still follows the NLL.
“Hopefully I’ll be able to get to some [Buffalo] Bandits games and Rochester’s not too far by, so who knows? Maybe if we get some time, I’ll make my way up there,” he said.
The Bandits open their season on Dec. 28 at First Niagara Center against the Philadelphia Wings.
26 Matt Moulson – 63 Tyler Ennis – 28 Zemgus Girgensons
82 Marcus Foligno – 19 Cody Hodgson – 27 Matt D’Agostini
9 Steve Ott – 23 Ville Leino – 21 Drew Stafford
32 John Scott – 12 Kevin Porter – 65 Brian Flynn – 37 Matt Ellis
10 Christian Ehrhoff – 52 Alexander Sulzer
20 Henrik Tallinder – 57 Tyler Myers
6 Mike Weber – 4 Jamie McBain
5 Chad Ruhwedel
30 Ryan Miller
1 Jhonas Enroth