Stars 4, Islanders 3
Considering recent events, there's no such thing as an ugly win for the Stars.
Case in point: Friday night when the Stars had enough defensive breakdowns over the opening 40 minutes to add a few gray hairs to the head of coach Marc Crawford before tightening up down the stretch.
notched the tiebreaking goal late in the second period, Marty Turco stopped all seven shots he faced in the final 20 minutes, and the Stars continued their strong run on home ice with a 4-3 decision over the New York Islanders to end a three-game skid.
Dallas is 9-2-2 in its last 13 at home, 1-6-3 in its previous 10 on the road.
The Stars needed something positive to happen at the AAC after having been outscored 9-2 in consecutive road losses to the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers.
Dallas opens a three-game trip Sunday at Columbus.
Crawford was especially pleased with the play of his top line of Richards, Loui Eriksson
and Jere Lehtinen.
"The first thing is you get a little confidence from winning,'' Crawford said. "It relaxes you a little bit and you don't squeeze the stick quite as much.
"Right now the guys that are playing at the top of their game for us - Lehtinen, Richards, Eriksson, especially - they're playing with that zeal and confidence. Just that little extra jump in their step, and we need a few more doing that.''
Said Stars captain Brenden Morrow
: "I think we're all aware of the situation and how critical it was. There was a lot more desperation, you could see it. But we need to do it again on Sunday. We'll take it. We beat ourselves up pretty good over the last two games, so any positives we can find, we want to take those out of tonight and take it on the road.''
, Eriksson and Morrow also found the net for Dallas.
The Stars hope for a carryover into Sunday night against the Blue Jackets.
"We've got to do the same as we do in this building,'' said Eriksson, who earned his 18th goal of the season to tie James Neal
for the team lead. "It's not easy for us to get points now. We've got to dig in and win some games.''
The score was knotted at 3 when Richards fired the rebound of Eriksson's shot past Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro at 16:47 of the second period.
"I was hoping the puck would come out, and sometimes they come right on your stick,'' Richards said. "I got lucky.''
Josh Bailey, Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen scored for the Isles, who had been 5-1-1 in their previous seven games.
Turco was tough down the stretch, and he was also fortunate in the final minute. New York's John Tavares almost bagged the equalizer with about 45 seconds left, but his attempt from close range pinballed off the right goal post.
"Marty battled hard and came up big when he needed to in the third,'' Morrow said.
DiPietro stopped 24 shots in his first game in more than a year. DiPietro suffered a blown-out left knee on Jan. 2, 2008 that required major surgery.
Petersen gave Dallas early momentum at 4:44 of the first period when his deflection glanced off the stick of Islanders defenseman Brendan Witt and through DiPietro's pads.
New York tied it at 1 at 7:16 of the first period when Bailey took advantage of a Dallas defensive breakdown.
Trent Hunter of the Isles sent a soft shot toward the net that glanced off Turco's pad. Stars defenseman Trevor Daley
failed to connect on a clearing attempt, and Bailey shot the puck past Turco on the Islanders' first shot on goal.
The Islanders took a 2-1 lead at 19:19 of the first period after Daley was unable to control the puck behind his net. It trickled in front where Okposo beat Turco.
But Eriksson drew Dallas even at 2 on a wrist shot from the slot at 4:18 of the second period.
Turco failed to make good contact while trying an up-ice pass, leaving the puck in front of the net where Nielsen pounced to make it 3-2 at 7:47 of the second period.
"Those were bad mistakes, but we got it back and got a win,'' Eriksson said.
New York's advantage lasted only 24 seconds before Morrow tied it at 3, and Richards' goal gave the Stars the two points they desperately needed.
"I thought we responded to the adversity in the game,'' Crawford said. "Everybody knows Marty let a couple bad ones in today, and there were a few bad bounces out there. Right now we're a fragile group. I liked the resolve in our team tonight.''
-- The Stars were playing their first game since second-line C Mike Ribeiro
sustained a serious throat injury. Ribeiro will be out 4-to-6 weeks with a throat contusion sustained when he was hit in the neck by the stick of New York Rangers F Chris Higgins in the second period of Wednesday night's loss to the Rangers. Ribeiro will remain in a Manhattan hospital through the weekend recovering from a throat procedure that included a tracheotomy.
-- On Friday night Crawford moved C Tom Wandell
to the No. 2 line and C Mike Modano from the fourth to the third line. Winger Steve Ott
centered the fourth line.
-- Dallas D Nicklas Grossman
is out with a lower-body injury.
-- Richards picked up two points for his 599th and 600th points of his career. He entered the night ranked third in the league in assists and now ranks second overall in multi-point games (18) behind Vancouver's Henrik Sedin.
-- Lehtinen's 265th career assist tied Darryl Sydor for 10th all-time in Stars history. He has points in consecutive games (1-1-2) and 1-4-5 points in his last seven games.
-- Mark Fistric
collected his fifth assist of the season, a new career-high. He also established a new career-high in points with his assist against the New York Rangers. Fistric has earned points in consecutive games for the first time in his career.
|Three star selections