DALLAS — The Islanders were simply out-Islandered.
The Stars play a similar game to the Islanders, at times low-scoring but with an improved defensive effort, strong on the forecheck and in trying to get traffic to the crease while limiting the opponent’s chances to the outside.
They did that more consistently than the Islanders did on Saturday night, plus the Stars scored on both of their power plays for a 3-1 win at American Airlines Center.
“They do a real good job of keeping the pucks to the outside,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said after the opener of a three-game road trip. “They’re going to be a threat, for sure. I liked our effort. I liked a lot of things we did. We just couldn’t find the back of the net enough or stop their power play.”
The Islanders (19-7-2) are 3-4-1 since their franchise-record point streak was snapped at 15-0-2 in a 3-0 loss at Anaheim on Nov. 25. This trip doesn’t get any easier in Florida as the Islanders take on the Lightning on Monday night before facing the Panthers three nights later.
The Stars (17-11-3) had scored only seven goals in their previous five games.
“They played us hard. I think our forwards can attest to that,” defenseman Devon Toews said. “It was hard for them to get room, create space and get to the middle of the ice. We preach the same things. We like to keep teams to the outside and let our goalie see the puck. I think, tonight, their goalie saw too many of our shots.”
Thomas Greiss made 34 saves as the Islanders’ franchise-record goalie rotation extended to 28 games to start the season.
The Stars’ Ben Bishop also made 34 saves. His bid for his first shutout of the season ended when Mathew Barzal got to the crease to tip Toews’ shot from the blue line at 15:27 of the third period, bringing the Islanders within 3-1.
“I honestly didn’t mind our game,” defenseman Ryan Pulock said. “They’ve got a high-end, skilled team. They’re going to get some chances. I thought we created a lot of good chances as well. The difference, really, is they got two on the power play.”
The Stars took a 2-0 lead as they grabbed momentum in the first period after a strong start by the Islanders. The goals came from one player who hadn’t scored this season and another who was a healthy scratch in their previous game.
Andrew Cogliano made it 1-0 at 11:59 with his first goal in 32 games dating to March 30. He redirected defenseman Jamie Oleksiak’s feed after former Islander Blake Comeau beat Casey Cizikas on an offensive-zone faceoff.
Alexander Radulov, who did not dress for the Stars’ 3-2 overtime win over the visiting Jets on Thursday night, connected with a power-play goal from above the circles at 16:02 after Barzal took an offensive-zone high-sticking penalty against Oleksiak.
The Islanders started the game on the attack, with burly Ross Johnston — on Barzal’s top line for a second straight game — drawing a high-sticking call on Oleksiak at 1:52. They took the game’s first three shots and had the first 11 attempts, six of them blocked by the Stars.
“We didn’t capitalize on our chances early and they did,” center Derick Brassard said. “After that, we were chasing the game.”
Barzal also tripped Roope Hintz at 1:49 of the fast-moving second period, leading to Denis Gurianov’s power-play goal that made it 3-0 at 3:12. He got to the left post and deflected in Radulov’s feed.
The second period featured a continuous stretch of play of 10 minutes, 20 seconds until a stoppage at 14:54.