An uncharacteristically out-of-synch player came through in a huge way to help a team in duress get a much-needed win.
Mike Ribeiro scored his first goal of the season and added four assists to set a new career-high in points, and the Stars clamped down to earn an impressive 5-3 win over the New York Islanders on Thursday night at Nassau Coliseum in a game that wasn't nearly as close as the score.
Ribeiro, Dallas' leading scorer last year, came in with just four assists and a team-worst minus-7 rating in the first seven games, while the Stars (3-4-1) shockingly entered having allowed a league-high 29 goals.
The dominant win could be the perfect prescription for both the Stars and Ribeiro to get things straightened out and rebound from a sluggish and inconsistent start.
"I just felt good tonight," Ribeiro said. "It's good for my confidence, and things just felt right tonight. It was a good game overall. We killed some penalties, blocked shots and were good on special teams. We got second effort tonight, and hopefully we can build on this going forward."
Goalie Marty Turco backstopped the Stars by stopping 24 shots, one night after he was yanked in Dallas' 5-0 clunker in New Jersey.
"We just had a rough start in general here, and we had a rough night last night. But it was a much better effort overall," Turco said. "It's disappointing giving up three, but where we're at we'll take the win. We're going to continue to battle. We know we're a much-better team."
After New York registered the first four shots of the game, the Stars began slicing and dicing the Islanders, using a three-goal first-period blitz to catapult them to their best game of this young season.
Dallas scored first for only the second time this year, and the early goal was the jump-start it built upon throughout the contest.
Loui Eriksson scored twice, Brenden Morrow added a goal and two assists, and Krys Barch scored for the Stars, who concluded their three-game New York City excursion with a pair of wins. It was also Dallas' second straight win over the Islanders, and first in regulation on Long Island since Dec. 2000.
Mark Streit had a goal and two assists, and Bill Guerin and Jon Sim also scored for New York, which has lost four of its first six games. Goalie Rick DiPietro, making only his second start because of offseason knee and hip surgeries, made 24 saves.
Ribeiro, meanwhile, was buoyed by coach Dave Tippett's decision to reunite him with Morrow after a three-game breakup. Along with Eriksson, the trio accounted for 10 points while skating circles around the beleaguered Islanders.
"That line was very good," Tippett said. "They were dominant, and Ribeiro with five points was outstanding."
Ribeiro had three assists in the first period, matching a Stars team record, and scored his first goal of the year on the power play with 1 1/2 minutes left in the second period, converting a pretty tic-tac-toe passing play with Morrow and Mike Modano that gave Dallas a 5-1 lead after 40 minutes.
The Stars also restored plenty of self-confidence early in the second when they were able to kill-off nearly four straight minutes of penalties, including a full two-minute 5-on-3 disadvantage. New York hit two goal posts during the two-man advantage, a sign that the breaks may finally be going in Dallas' direction.
"It was setting up for a good situation for us, but the fact nothing crossed the goal line was big," New York coach Scott Gordon said.
"Frustration was mounting but everything felt right and we obviously clicked tonight," Morrow added. "Marty came up huge, we had a big kill and got some good breaks. It's a lot easier to defend when you have a lead and we were able to create some turnovers and possess the puck. We can look at tonight as a success, but we won't get too far ahead of ourselves."
After the Islanders closed the gap to 3-1 on Guerin's goal midway through the second period, Ribeiro picked up his fourth assist on Barch's second goal of the year with seven minutes to go in the middle frame to boost the advantage. Ribeiro started the play by making a no-look, between-the-legs pass to Morrow just inside the blue line. Morrow sent a wrist shot toward the net, and Barch was able to deflect it past DiPietro.
Former Star Guerin scored his second of the season when he swatted home a rolling puck after receiving a backhand pass from Sean Bergenheim.
Eriksson scored his first of the game 3:30 into the first period. While on the power play, he was able to re-direct a slick pass from Ribeiro, who fed his linemate neatly from the top the right faceoff circle.
Morrow made it 2-0 with under six minutes to go in the first with his third of the year. After Turco made a scintillating sliding save on Islanders forward Richard Park, Ribeiro corralled Stephane Robidas pass in the neutral zone and skated into the Islanders zone along the right boards. After putting on the breaks in the right circle, Ribeiro hit a hard-charging Morrow with a perfect pass for the easy tap-in.
Eriksson notched his second of the game and third of the season just as a penalty to Bergenheim expired with 1:38 remaining in the first. Ribeiro deftly batted down New York defenseman Bruno Gervais' clearing attempt out of mid-air near the blueline, then skated into the high slot before sliding the puck to Eriksson. Eriksson cut to the front of the net, then lifted a nifty backhand over DiPietro's right shoulder to make it 3-0.
After Streit scored an early third -period power-play goal, Sim capped the scoring with just three seconds to go.
"Things weren't clicking but it was a real determination from our group and our veterans doing a better job tonight," Tippett said. "We blocked shots and did whatever it takes to win. Those are trademarks of our team. We got around pressure and were dependable with the puck."
The Stars will now return to Dallas to begin a short two-game homestand on Saturday night against Alexander Ovechkin and the Eastern Conference Washington Capitals at American Airlines Center (7, my27).
After winning three straight, the Capitals had lost their last two -- including one in a shootout -- heading into their game Thursday night in Phoenix.
-- Many Stars players have had three assists in one period, with the last being Sergei Zubov in Nov. 2007 against Colorado.
-- Ribeiro also registered his 300th career NHL point with his assist on Eriksson's first goal.
-- Dallas is 2-0 when scoring first this season.
-- The Stars came in with only four goals in their first four road games.
-- Dallas won the second game of back-to-back affairs for the first time this season (1-2).
-- Dallas converted two of its six power-play opportunities, while the Islanders were 1-of-6 with the man advantage.
-- Modano is now 10 points shy of 1,300 for his career.
-- Morrow has points in six of the first eight games.
-- Barch knocked Islanders defenseman Brendan Witt out of the game with a crushing hit in New York's right corner midway through the first period.
-- DiPietro came in with a sparkling 1.33 GAA against Dallas, his lowest against any opponent in his career.
-- This was the only meeting between the two teams this year.
-- The game was Hockey Fights Cancer night at Nassau Coliseum. The Stars will host Hockey Fights Cancer awareness night on Saturday when the Stars face the Washington Capitals.
1 - 0 DAL
2 - 0 DAL
3 - 0 DAL
3 - 1 DAL
4 - 1 DAL