The New York Islanders played 64 minutes of solid hockey against the Dallas Stars, which is a nice performance. It simply wasn't good enough to avoid another loss.
Joe Nieuwendyk's redirection from the low slot with 47.4 seconds left in overtime gave the Dallas Stars a 3-2 win Thursday night, and also helped set a club record with a 10-game road unbeaten streak (8-0-2).
"That's a heck of a hockey club," Islanders coach Bill Stewart said of Dallas. "They certainly know how to win, and proved it again tonight."
Nieuwendyk said he had to fend off defenseman Zdeno Chara in the corner to get to the net. At 6-foot-9, Chara is the league's biggest player.
"I was just trying to get to the net with this 7-foot-5 guy beating all over you as hard as he does," Nieuwendyk said. "It was just a good shift for us."
Aned a bad one for the Islanders.
"That was maybe our best 64 minutes of the season," Stewart said. "Unfortunately, the game was 65 minutes long.
"We should have advanced the puck instead of going back with it. We needed to chip and drive the puck and we didn't do that. You have to advance the puck north and south, not east and west."
The Islanders, somewhat sluggish throughout the period, energized themselves on their only power play of the game. Barry Richter's left circle shot was stopped by goalie RomaTurek, who went down to make the save. New York then took five whacks at the puck, and the last whack went in off the stick of Zigmund Palffy at 18:29.
Palffy out the Islanders ahead 2-1 in the middle period. Palffy bolted from the penalty box at the same time Dallas defenseman Richard Matvichuk couldn't handle a back-pass at the blue line. That gave Palffy the puck and a clear run at Turek. He faked the goalie down with a backhand move, then switched to his forehand and lifted the puck over Turek's pad.
Palffy also had the first of several missed opportunities when he went in on another breakaway 75 seconds later. He tried the same thing, but shot over the net.
"I tried to go the same way and go upstairs," Palffy said. "The puck was bouncing and I shot it high. It was just bad luck."
"We usually feed off teams that go up the middle, but the Islanders managed to keep the puck along the boards for most of the game," Modano said. "They played a pretty mistake-free game."
The Islanders dominated the third period, outshooting Dallas 10-5 and missing on several more opportunities to take the lead. Turek made a heads-up play at 13:18 as he came out of the net as New York's Claude Lapointe came in on a breakaway. Turek's sweeping poke-check prevented a likely goal.
He also made a good kick save on Bryan Smolinski's right circle slap shot with 2:25 left in regulation.
New York took the first shot of overtime, and it was the last one of the game for the Isles. Dallas started to build pressure in New York's zone, and spent most of the final three minutes of play there. It paid off when Hatcher kept the puck in at the right point and sent a shot toward the net. Nieuwendyk got to the front and tipped the puck past Salo.
"It just went in off his body," Salo said. "What can you do?"
Stewart found no solace in coming close.
"Can we compete with a Dallas, an Ottawa, a New Jersey?," Stewart said. "Yeah, but it's frustrating that we didn't get the job done."
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