Czerkawski continued his torrid start with a pair of goals as the Islanders rolled over the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2 on Monday night.
“You always try to believe in yourself,” Czerkawski said. “This is the best start I’ve ever had, but I try not to get too excited. It’s a long season.”
Czerkawski has three goals and an assist in his last two games, and has been on the ice for just one goal scored against the Islanders.
Garth Snow was in net for the Islanders for the first time since allowing six goals in less than two periods on opening night, and stopped 24 shots for his first win.
“It’s nice to get a win, especially against these guys,” Snow said. “I think after the Rangers, this is probably the biggest rivalry for us.”
Gary Roberts and Matt Stajan scored for Toronto, which lost its first road game. The Maple Leafs have scored only seven goals in their first five games. Ed Belfour started and stopped only five shots before Mikael Tellqvist came in and stopped five more.
“We’ve been playing pretty well defensively, except for tonight and the opening game,” Toronto captain Mats Sundin said. “When you’re not getting a lot of offense, you have to play well defensively to keep you in games and give you a chance to win.”
The last time the Islanders won their first two regular season home games was when the beat the Rangers and Philadelphia in 1992.
The Islanders took a 1-0 lead on Czerkawski’s fourth goal of the season at 5:06 on a power play when Belfour couldn’t contain Czerkawski’s wrist shot from the low right circle in his glove.
Blake’s first goal of the season came at 15:25 to give the Islanders a 2-0 lead. Belfour lost the puck, which was in his skates, and Blake’s second poke drove it home.
“We didn’t compete very well, quite frankly,” Toronto coach Pat Quinn said. “The first two goals, we just got beat to the puck. It was a bad start, and it got worse. We’ve got to find a way to fix that.”
The Maple Leafs got on the board 40 seconds later when Roberts’ wraparound sneaked between Snow’s pads.
The Islanders chased Belfour with a pair of early second period goals.
Czerkawski’s hard shot from the left circle hit Belfour and trickled in at 1:42, and then Kvasha sent a one-timer into the net on a power play at 2:57, ending Belfour’s night.
Tellqvist came in and allowed Peca’s goal, a breakaway wrist shot, but otherwise shut the Islanders down. Snow was caught out of the net when Stajan gained the puck and scored at 12:44 of the final period.
“They played a smart game,” Sundin said. “Tonight, we started well, but it seemed like every time we made a mistake, they capitalized on it.”
Snow said the biggest difference between this year’s team and teams of past was the confidence factor.
“We’re up 4-1, and if we let down our guard at all, it’s 4-2 or 4-3,” Snow said. “We kept playing the same way and were able to win.”
Islanders forward Dave Scatchard, who separated his right shoulder in Saturday’s win over Florida, is expected to miss four to six weeks of action. … Toronto forward Mikael Renberg pulled a muscle in his upper chest during the second period and missed the rest of the game. … Islanders defenseman Adrian Aucoin left had a mild groin strain. … New York goalie Rick DiPietro became the first recipient of the league’s newest award, the NHL Defensive Player of the Week. DiPietro had a 2-0-1 record and 0.83 goals-against averagein three starts between Oct. 8-19, including a shutout streak of 115:59.