DALLAS --Matt Moulson picked a good time to have a career night.
Moulson became the first player in the NHL to score four goals this season -- and the New York Islanders needed every one of them to hold off the Dallas Stars 5-4 at American Airlines Center on Saturday night.
"Guys have those nights and tonight was his night," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said after Moulson's scored four times in a game for the first time in his career. "He works extremely hard. I thought that line really carried us tonight. It was a total team effort, there was no question but that line was real good."
PA Parenteau and John Tavares each assisted on three of Moulson's goals as the Islanders (8-11-5) completed a 3-0-1 road trip. Moulson scored twice in the first period and twice again in the second, making him the first Islander to score four times in a game since Viktor Kozlov did it against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden exactly five years ago -- Dec. 3, 2006.
"They really gave me some good chances," Moulson said of his linemates. "All I had to do was sweep it into an open net. The win's the biggest part. Score as many goals as you want, but the win's the most important thing."
Dallas (15-10-1) got goals from Tomas Vincour, Eric Nystrom, Jake Dowell and Tom Wandell but saw its two-game winning streak snapped and lost to the Islanders for the first time since Nov. 15, 2006. All four Dallas goals were scored in the second period against Rick DiPietro, who didn't return for the third period due to a groin injury. Al Montoya -- a 5-4 shootout loser in Chicago on Friday -- stopped all 13 shots he faced, including a big save on Michael Ryder in the final 10 seconds.
"It wasn't the prettiest, but we got three of four points in these last two games," Tavares said.
Moulson opened the scoring 8:55 into the opening period, knocking a rebound into the right side of the net during New York’s first power play of the night for his 10th of the season. He made it 2-0 at 10:54 when he punched home a carom off the end boards after Tavares shook through the defense but missed the net.
New York went ahead 3-0 at 2:48 of the second when Dylan Reese’s straightaway wrister from 50 feet sailed through traffic and beat Dallas goaltender Andrew Raycroft under the crossbar for his first goal of the season.
But the Stars needed just 2:03 to get even.
Only 39 seconds after Reese's goal, Vincour redirected a long-range shot from Stephane Robidas past DiPietro for his first of the season. Nystrom’s 10th, just 1:26 later, made it a one-goal game, and Jake Dowell’s first goal with the Stars 37 seconds later made it 3-3.
But the game didn’t remained tied for long as Moulson got his third of the night 27 seconds later at 5:47. Tavares made a scintillating, backhand pass across the front of the Dallas goal for the primary assist and Moulson finished with a 20-foot wrister.
Moulson had a great opportunity to make it a two-goal game at 14:23 with a breakaway against Raycroft, but the Dallas netminder stopped his wrister from the slot.
Dallas took advantage at 16:08 when Wandell's long slapper from the right wing beat DiPietro to make it 4-4.
"We have some resiliency. I don’t think that’s going to change for us but we can’t keep battling back every night," Dallas coach Glen Gulutzan said. "We’ve got to play with a little sense of urgency at home and make sure that our first periods [are good]. It’s a lot easier to play with a lead than it is to climb back in."
Moulson broke the deadlock again just 1:02 after Wandell had tied it. Parenteau led a 2-on-1 break, drew the defense to him and slid a pass to Moulson, who buried a 10-footer from the lower left circle.
"He was all over the net," Tavares said of Moulson. "He probably could have had six or seven. He was on fire."
In addition to DiPietro, the Islanders lost rookie forward Nino Niederreiter in the first period with concussion-like symptoms after Dallas defenseman Marc Fistric appeared to leave his feet to hit him in the neutral zone. Speedy forward Michael Grabner left after a third-period breakaway with a groin injury. All three will be evaluated on Sunday when the team returns home.
Capuano didn't want to comment about Fistric's hit on Niederreiter.
"They have got a tough job to do," he said when asked about the officials, who did not call a penalty on the play. "I don’t know if [Fistric] left his feet or if he didn’t. It’s a hit. It’s part of the game and for the NHL officials to decide."
One telling number was that the Isles finished with 28 blocked shots compared to just seven by the Stars. Both coaches said that differential was a big factor in the outcome.
"We had 28 blocked shots tonight," Capuano said. "It’s something that we have been talking about as a team. I was real happy."
For Gulutzan, that difference showed just how much more the Isles wanted the two points.
"They were hungry. They wanted to get a win," he said. "They were hungry tonight to hold onto their lead and I think they had a good team commitment to blocking shots."
New York will have three days off before hosting Tampa Bay on Tuesday. Dallas won’t hit the ice again until Thursday in San Jose, the beginning of a five-game road trip.
Wrist shot -
1 - 0 NYI
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2 - 0 NYI
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3 - 0 NYI
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3 - 1 NYI
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