Hunter’s goal with 3:20 left in regulation broke a tie and lifted the Islanders to a 4-1 win over the Dallas Stars on Thursday night.
Hunter took the puck around the net, moved to the lower left circle, and wristed his fifth goal over Marty Turco’s glove.
“The puck was behind the net, and I got in front of their defenseman and moved around for the shot,” Hunter said. “I was trying to go high, but not pick a spot other than that.”
The guilty defenseman was John Erskine.
“I tried to go back behind the net, and didn’t know what happened after that,” Erskine said. “I suffered a brain cramp, and the next thing I know, I saw the puck in the back of our net.”
Shawn Bates iced the game with 1:00 left on a backhand. Michael Peca added an empty-net goal with 5.9 seconds left. Mark Parrish scored earlier for the Islanders, 6-1 at home. Rick DiPietro stopped 27 shots.
“Today would have been an easy day to give up on the system, but we stuck with it and were rewarded,” Islanders defenseman Kenny Jonsson said. “It’s the biggest reason we’re 6-1 at home.”
Brendan Morrow scored Dallas’ only goal. Turco turned aside 19 shots for the Stars, who lost the first two games of a three-game Eastern road swing. Dallas lost to the Rangers and Islanders in New York and will face Boston on Saturday.
Dallas coach Dave Tippett was frustrated by his team’s lack of scoring and the Stars’ knack for giving up goals off turnovers.
“Before addressing scoring, we have to address our goals against,” Tippett said. “We gave the puck away in our own zone on the first two goals, but what was worse was coverage issues after we gave the puck away that led to the goals.
“When all’s said and done, we have to bury our chances. We don’t get credit for scoring chances, we only get credit for goals.”
DiPietro stopped 13 shots in the scoreless first period, but Turco had the closest call. Halfway through the period, Jason Wiemer’s tip of Parrish’s shot went under Turco but never crossed the goal line.
Wiemer and Parrish combined to give the Islanders the lead 1:43 into the second period. Wiemer took a shot from the lower right circle that Turco stopped with his pad, but the rebound bounced out to Parrish in the crease. Parrish lifted a shot in for his first goal in eight games.
DiPietro made the save of the game with 4:13 left in the period when he stopped Mike Modano’s one-timer at the left post with his right pad.
“I think I would have scored if I lifted the puck higher,” said Modano, who has just one goal in his last seven games and three overall. “It’s an unbelievable little stretch. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in a funk like this.”
DiPietro said the save gave him and the Islanders a lift.
“Any time I get a chance to make a save on a great player like Mike Modano, it gives me confidence,” DiPietro said.
Dallas tied it 1-1 at 6:41 of the third when Morrow, open at the right post, took Scott Young’s cross-ice pass and shoved a short-side wrist shot past DiPietro.
It was Dallas’ first goal in over five periods of play. The Stars were shutout by the Rangers on Tuesday.
Dallas D defenseman Phillipe Boucher left in the second period due to what Tippett said was a bruised leg. … The Islanders have won four straight against Dallas. The last time they had as long an unbeaten run against the Stars was a five-game streak between 1992-95 (3-0-2). … The Islanders skated with five rookies in their lineup: Justin Papineau, Sean Bergenheim, Trent Hunter, Eric Godard and Justin Mapletoft. … New York has only two players over 30 on its roster: Mariusz Czerkawski and Garth Snow. Dallas’ playersaverage over 31 years old.