UNIONDALE, N.Y. — New York’s newest sports star Zach Wilson was on hand for Game 4 between the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins, but on the Nassau Coliseum concourse on Saturday afternoon it was former Islanders forward Matt Moulson that everyone was lining up to see.
The fan-favorite who played parts of five seasons with the Isles during the mid-2000s was on hand for Saturday’s game, which could be one of the last ever played at the Nassau Coliseum. The affinity of the fans never seemed to disappear either, even after he was traded to Buffalo early on during the 2013-14 season.
He was reminded of that again on Saturday as he stood on the Coliseum concourse with a line of fans waiting for pictures and autographs. And even more, walked by shouting his name and asked him to jump on the ice to help the team out.
“I think that was the most nervous I’ve been in my career so far,” Matt Moulson said about the reception he received. Moulson received the loudest ovation of the day when he was featured on the video board during the first period.
“It’s just awesome to be back obviously,” Moulson said. “I enjoyed every minute I was on the Island and to hear an ovation like that it’s very much appreciated.”
Moulson had been a member of the islanders during the team’s first go-around with Pittsburgh in 2013 and he had originally been a Pittsburgh draft pick in 2003. The 2013 season had been the first time the Islanders had made the playoffs
On Saturday, the 6,800 appeared to match the intensity that Matt Moulson felt during that series eight years ago.
“I think this crowd is bringing pretty comparable noise level to that crowd,” Moulson said. “It’s a very energetic bunch and obviously happy to be back in the building. To have all these fans be able to attend a playoff game is huge.”
The Islanders’ time left at the Nassau Coliseum will be dependent on how far they go in the postseason. Saturday’s 4-1 victory meant that the Islanders are guaranteed at least one more game at their longtime home.
Next season they move down the street to UBS Arena, which is in its final stages of construction next to the famed Belmont Park. It meant the visit was a bit of a bitter-sweet occasion for Moulson.
“It’s sad obviously with all the history here,” said Moulson, who witnessed some of the team’s previous attempts at renovating the Nassau Coliseum. “But I’ve been following pretty closely the new building and it looks unbelievable. I’m sure they’ll make some history there as well.”