UNIONDALE – Instead of waiting until the final part of the third period to mount one of their signature rallies, the Stars learned that being a little impatient works just as well.
Brenden Morrow and Jamie Benn scored early third-period goals to erase a deficit, and rookie Richard Bachman made 25 saves for his third straight win in Dallas’ 3-2 comeback victory over the New York Islanders on Thursday night.
Loui Eriksson had a goal and assist, and Benn also added an assist for the Stars (18-11-1), who won their third straight for the first time in a month, and improved to 3-1-0 on their season-long five-game road trip.
Down by a goal after 40 minutes, the Stars came bursting out of the gate to start the third, and scored twice within the first 4 1/2 minutes of the final frame to lift them to their fifth win in the last seven games -- and 11th one-goal win of the season. The early surge came as a bit of a surprise, since more than half of Dallas’ third-period tallies coming into this game had come over the final 10 minutes of regulation.
“I don’t remember getting blown out too bad, but I don’t remember a game where we can kind of take the foot off the gas,” Morrow said. “They’ve all been down to the wire, one or two goal games. Going into the third we were still pretty comfortable where we were at.”
Helping matters was the re-emergence of Benn and Eriksson, who have each been in an offensive funk. The duo had just three combined points over the previous seven games, and just one over the last five contests.
But against the Islanders Benn had plenty of jump in his step, and Eriksson finished with a plus-1 rating, the first time in six games he’s been above the even line.
“I thought our team played well,” Benn said. “We made a few mistakes, myself included, that cost us a goal in the second but we got it back in the third. It was a strong effort. It just comes down to hard work, and you have to keep it simple.”
Bachman, making his third straight start, slammed the door shut in the third on the Islanders, who lost their fourth straight (0-3-1). The 24-year-old helped preserve the win with a tremendous right arm stop while moving to his right on New York’s Frans Nielsen with 7 minutes to go in the third and the Islanders on a power play.
“He’s a calm and steady goalie back there, and we have lots of confidence in him,” Benn said. “He’s shown that he can play at this level. It’s nice to have a backbone back there, and he’s playing great hockey right now.”
The youngster became the first goalie in the Stars’ history to win his first three NHL starts.
“The ‘D’ really did a great job of helping me out,” Bachman said. “I didn’t think I had control of all the rebounds, and I left a few out there, but they did a great job of clearing things out in front of me. It was one of those nights you had to battle through it.”
Kyle Okposo had a goal and assist, and Michael Grabner also scored for the Islanders (9-14-6), who defeated the Stars 5-4 less than two weeks ago in Dallas. Kevin Poulin finished with 26 saves in his first appearance of the season.
Morrow started the Stars’ final frame festivities. His fifth of the year came on the power play and tied the game at 2 just 67 seconds into the third. Steve Ott skated towards the net alongside the goal line before sliding a pass with his backhand to Morrow, who jammed the puck home from in tight.
“That was one of the plays we thought would be there, and we got lucky with it,” Morrow said. “It got a lucky bounce and found the back of the net. You need some breaks.”
Benn then collected the winner to make it 3-2 with his eighth 4:33 into the third. Off a 3-on-1 rush, he skated into the right circle before unloading a snap shot from the faceoff dot that beat Poulin on the glove side.
With the game tied after the first period, Okposo gave the Islanders their first lead of the game with his fifth of the season with just 96 seconds left in the second period to make it 2-1. From the left circle his original shot squeezed through Bachman’s pads before the puck stopped just in front of the goal line. But Okposo was following up on the play, and was able to deftly tap it in.
“We just got a little impatient and gave them a few breaks,” defenseman Alex Goligoski said. “The kind of team they are, what they’re looking for is to get on the offensive side of the puck and then they cheat a little bit.”
The Stars struck first when Eriksson scored his 11th of the season just 6 seconds after Dallas’ power-play expired 8:36 into the opening frame. After accepting a short pass from Trevor Daley, Benn snapped-off a hard shot from the right circle that went in off Eriksson, who was standing just outside the crease.
It was just the third goal in the past 18 games for Eriksson.
Grabner tied it for the Islanders at 1 with his ninth of the year with 3:22 remaining in the first period. Down the left wing and past the lower portion of the left circle, Okposo sent a feed to Grabner, who was driving hard to the net. As Grabner began to stop, the puck went in off his right skate.
After a brief video review, the goal was confirmed.
“Mentally we’re at a point where we know that if we come to work and play our game, we can hang with anyone,” coach Glen Gulutzan said. “It’s just a matter of us having that mindset to come every night. But to think it and do it are two different things.”
The Stars cap their five-game road odyssey Friday night in New Jersey against the Devils (7 p.m., FS-SW). The Devils have won four of their last five, including a 3-2 shootout win Tuesday at Florida.
“Coast-to-coast, it’s been a long one,” Morrow said of the cross-country trip that nears completion.
-- Defenseman Mark Fistric was scratched after serving his three-game suspension handed down by the NHL for a hit on the Islanders’ Nino Niederreiter on Dec. 3 in Dallas. Defenseman Adam Pardy and forward Toby Petersen were the other scratches. Niederreiter, meanwhile, missed his fifth straight game with a concussion sustained on the play.
-- Eriksson’s last goal came against Los Angeles on Nov. 23.
-- Daley extended his points streak to three games. He has four points during the stretch after recording just five points in his first 23 games.