DiPietro stopped 35 shots to register his first shutout of the season and seventh of his career, leading the Islanders to a 3-0 win over the Dallas Stars on Wednesday night. “DiPietro showed he’s one of the best goalies in the league,” Stars centre Mike Modano said of DiPietro, his U.S. Olympic teammate who signed a 15-year deal with the Islanders before this season.
Mike York, Jason Blake and Trent Hunter scored to help New York successfully open a four-game road trip, but DiPietro made the biggest impact for the Islanders.
“He made some incredible saves,” York said. “That was the best I’ve seen him play handling the puck. He did a great job.”
The Islanders, who started the night 27th in the NHL on the penalty-kill, fought off seven Stars power plays.
DiPietro, who has stopped 67 of 68 shots in his last two games, preserved the shutout with 8:24 left when he stopped Eric Lindros’ solo rush on a Dallas power play.
“(Lindros) has got a good shot,” DiPietro said. “It was (defenceman Brendan Witt) and all of those guys blocking shots to make it easier for me.”
Despite the loss, the Stars (12-5) are off to their fourth-best, 17-game start in franchise history.
Marty Turco made 19 saves for Dallas.
Turco isn’t getting much support from his teammates, who have managed only three goals in four games.
“Maybe we’re trying to be a little too fine on it,” Lindros said. “We’ve had our chances. The hockey gods haven’t been with us but we’ll keep working and force the luck back our way.”
The Islanders (8-6-2) are 4-0-2 in their last six meetings with the Stars.
New York took advantage of the game’s first power play when York swept the rebound of Miroslav Satan’s shot past Turco at 4:01 for his fourth goal of the season.
The Islanders shut down the Stars for 1:42 of a two-man power play midway through the first period to preserve the lead.
Blake, off to the best start of his career, notched his team-high ninth goal of the season on a give-and-go with Alexei Yashin to make it 2-0 at 5:40 of the second period.
“I think Blake’s goal, giving it to Yashin and Yashin giving it right back to him, that was a great play on both of those guys’ parts. We just went from there,” Islanders coach Ted Nolan said.
Dallas held a 13-4 shots edge in the frame, but most of the Stars’ attempts at DiPietro came from the perimeter.
“There’s the scenario where we outwork and outshoot them, but things don’t go our way,” Modano said. “The power play hasn’t had the results we’d like and that could have been the difference in the game.”
Hunter notched his third goal of the season with a shot from the slot at 15:31 of the final period to stretch the lead to 3-0.
The Islanders’ season got off to a bumpy start, but they’ve turned things around behind DiPietro.
“We’re trying to build an identity,” Nolan said. “We started 0-3 and all of a sudden since then we’re 8-3-2. These guys love to compete.”
Notes: Dallas RW Jere Lehtinen left the game in the second period with a leg injury and didn’t return. His status will be evaluated on Thursday. … Islanders D Chris Campoli is recovering from a groin injury and is practising with the team, but was scratched from the lineup. … The teams hadn’t met since Feb. 11, 2004, and won’t see each other again this season. … Both teams came off five-day layoffs. … Blake has never scored more than 25 goals in his first six full NHL seasons. … The Stars’ last home shutout loss was Jan. 2, 2004 – a 6-0 defeat to Phoenix.