Anders Lee broke a 1-1 tie at 8:50 of the third period, as the New York Islanders wrapped up a four-game road trip with a 3-1 win over the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center.
The win improved the Islanders to 3-1-0 on their four-game swing through the Western Conference, with the Isles holding their opponents to just a single goal in each win. Four games and over 4,000 miles later, the Isles now get a few days off over the NHL's Christmas break.
"We knew the importance of this game right before the break," Lee said. "One we didn't want to over look and if we won, would turn this into a good road trip. We knew if we put in three good hours tonight it would be a nice little break here."
ISLES BOTTLE UP STARS:
For the second time in four games, the Islanders bottled up a high-octane opponent, keeping Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Alex Radulov off the scoresheet.
"We stayed to the game plan. We stayed to the details and the commitment you need to win and I thought we won as a team tonight," Head Coach Barry Trotz said. "We took a high-octane type of team and shut them down for the most part."
Tyler Pitluck scored the lone Stars goal at 6:20 of the second period, but that was all the offense Dallas could muster. The Islanders held the Stars to 20 shots, with Lehner making 19 saves for his second consecutive win.
Video: NYI@DAL: Cizikas credited with an unusual goal
CIZIKAS' CRAZY GOAL:
Casey Cizikas put the Islanders on the board with a crazy goal on Sunday night. Cizikas threw a backhander on net that had some English, as the puck rode up Anton Khudobin, bounced off the top of the net and spun in.
"We've had a couple of odd ones like that, but good things happen when you get pucks to the net," Lee said. "Casey deserves it with how hard he worked on that shift."
The goal was Cizikas' ninth of the season, which matched his career-high set in the 2014-15 season.
"You put his picture right there with Islander identity," Trotz said. "He comes to work every night and plays hard. I think he's gotten better and better every year. He can make plays. He doesn't get enough recognition around that he can actually make plays."
Video: NYI@DAL: Lee deflects shot on power play for lead
LEE GIVES ISLES THE LEAD:
Cizikas bounce wasn't the only good one the Islanders got on Sunday night.
The second came on the game-winning goal, as Lee deflected a Nick Leddy shot off the post and off Khudobin's leg before the puck trickled across the line for a power-play goal.
The power-play goal was also Lee's team-leading 13th of the season, breaking a tie with Brock Nelson. Leo Komarov, who was a bee in Radulov's bonnet all night, iced the game with an empty-netter.
TOEWS MAKES NHL DEBUT:
Toews logged 18:05 TOI (1:49 on the power play) with three shots skating on a pairing with Luca Sbisa.
The Islanders were impressed with Toews poise in his first NHL game, praising his steady, confident game.
"He was not intimidated if he was out there against top guys or anything. That shows me he has a lot of confidence in his ability," Trotz said. "He was one of our better ones today."
The Islanders gave Toews the first-game treatment, sending the rookie out for a solo lap around the ice in warmups. Still, it was a dream come true for the 24-year-old, who had his parents, brother and fiance in the stands at American Airlines Center.
"Comfortable is a good way to put it," Toews said of his first game. "Sbisa is a great d-partner for me and I thought we complimented each other really well… The guys played really well tonight and to get those two points were huge tonight."
CLUTTERBUCK LEAVES GAME:
Cal Clutterbuck (lower body) left Sunday's game in the first period and did not return. Clutterbuck was hit awkwardly by Dallas' Martin Hanzal, who also left the game with an upper-body injury.
The NHL is closed for Christmas, so the Islanders are off until Dec. 28 when they take on the Ottawa Senators. Until then, enjoy time with your families and from all of us at NewYorkIslanders.com, we wish you a very Happy Holidays.