The Dallas Stars showed a five-day layoff didn't make them rusty.
It was business as usual as rookie defenseman Sergey Gusev had his first NHL goal and an assist, while Darryl Sydor added a goal and an assist to lead the Stars to a 4-2 victory over the New York Islanders Friday night.
"It was important to get off to a good start and get the first goal," said Sydor after the Stars took over first place from idle Phoenix in the Pacific Division.
"I thought we responded in the first period with some hard shifts. We're going to start playing a lot of games now so it's important to get on a roll."
The Stars also got a lift from Gusev, the 23-year-old Russian who was called up from Dallas' IHL farm team in Michigan earlier this week to replace injured right wing Jere Lehtinen. Gusev was playing his first NHL game of the season and 10th of his career.
"I wanted to play great tonight," Gusev said. "The first thing for me is to play strong defense. The goal and the assist are a plus."
Dallas extended its winning streak to three games and beat the Islanders for the fifth consecutive time.
Joe Nieuwendyk and Pat Verbeek also had goals for the Stars, 7-1-1 at home this season.
Rookie David Harlock got his first NHL goal and Mariusz Czerkawski also had a goal for the Islanders, who lost their third in a row and fourth in five games.
Stars coach Ken Hitchcock's game plan was to try to negate the Islanders team speed, and for the most part Dallas succeeded, holding New York to 17 shots.
"It's tough when you play them because of their quickness and speed," Hitchcock said. "But I thought we din't give them a lot of quality chances and limited them on the transition game."
Dallas scored the only goal of the first period at 11:09 on Nieuwendyk's power-play backhander against goaltender Wade Flaherty, making his first start of the season. Nieuwendyk set up in the slot and converted Brett Hull's pass for his fifth goal of the season.
The Stars extended their lead to 2-0 on another power play at 5:35 of the second period when Verbeek sent a rebound past Flaherty for his fourth. Gusev assisted for his first career point.
The Islanders cut the deficit to 2-1 at 8:58 of the second on rookie defenseman Harlock's slap shot from the point that eluded Stars goalie Ed Belfour.
Dallas made it 3-1 at 10:49 of the second period when Gusev's shot from the point got through Flaherty's legs.
Czerkawski brought the Islanders within 3-2 at 1:29 of the third period with his fifth. But Sydor restored the Stars' two-goal lead when he scored his sixth with 3:20 to play.
Islanders assistant coach Lorne Henning didn't think Flaherty played badly. No. 1 goalie Tommy Salo had played all but 24 minutes in the nets for the Islanders until Friday.
"I thought it was a tough situation for him," Henning said. "He made some big saves, then gave up a couple on screened shots. As far as the team is concerned, overall I thought the effort was there. You're never happy when you lose,but it's a step in the right direction."
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