Uniondale, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Kyle Okposo's goal 58 seconds into
overtime lifted the New York Islanders to a season-high third straight win, a
3-2 decision over the Chicago Blackhawks that also ended a lengthy losing skid
at Nassau Coliseum for the home team.
Casey Cizikas and Thomas Vanek also scored and Evgeni Nabokov turned aside 37
shots in the Islanders' first victory on home ice since a shootout triumph
over Detroit on Nov. 16. New York had gone 0-4-4 at Nassau Coliseum since that
Chicago fought back from a 2-0 deficit to gain a point on goals from Brent
Seabrook and Ben Smith. Corey Crawford, returning from a 10-game absence
caused by a groin injury, recorded 31 saves in the loss.
After coming up short on a few opportunities to prevail near the end of
regulation, the Islanders wasted little time deciding the outcome in the extra
John Tavares took a pass from Andrew MacDonald and skated into the Chicago
zone, where his shot attempt was blocked by the Blackhawks' Duncan Keith. The
puck went straight to a trailing Okposo, who rifled a wrister over Crawford's
glove and into the top right corner of the net for the game-winner.
"When that puck went in and I heard everybody chanting 'USA!', it was pretty
special," said Okposo, who was left off the United States roster for the
upcoming Winter Olympics when the team was announced Wednesday.
Seabrook and Smith scored just over three minutes apart overlapping the second
and third periods to pull the Blackhawks even, and Chicago successfully killed
off a penalty later on before Crawford helped bring on overtime by stoning
Okposo from point-blank range with 2:01 left in regulation.
"The positive out of the game was Corey's play," Blackhawks head coach Joel
Quenneville remarked. "I thought he got us a point and made some real key
stops late in the game."
Chicago outshot the Islanders by a 12-5 margin in the opening period, but
found itself down at the first intermission due to Nabokov's strong work
between the pipes and a strong defensive play from Cizikas.
After forcing the Blackhawks' Bryan Bickell to turn the puck over in the
neutral zone, Cizikas skated in alone on Crawford and beat the Chicago
netminder stick-side following a nifty fake to begin the scoring with 4:36
left in the frame.
Vanek made it a 2-0 New York lead 8:09 into the second, depositing the rebound
of MacDonald's long drive that was blocked in front of the Chicago crease.
"Now you are starting to see a lot more confidence in our game," said Tavares.
"I like the energy on the bench and in the locker room. The emotion is there
and you can just feel the hunger from the guys. We're starting to get the
The Blackhawks were able to cut the deficit in half before the period ran out,
with Seabrook one-timing a cross-ice feed from Kris Versteeg while on a power
play 1:24 prior to the conclusion of the stanza.
Smith potted the equalizer with only 1:50 elapsed in the third, poking in a
carom of Patrick Sharp's initial attempt that Nabokov stopped in close.
Okposo's goal was his fourth in three games and extended his point streak to
eight games, during which he's tallied six goals and six assists ... Vanek has
totaled four goals and six assists during a seven-game point streak
... Chicago's Patrick Kane was kept off the scoresheet for only the third time
in 29 outings since Nov. 3 ... The Islanders improved to 14-4-2 when scoring
three or more goals this season ... Cizikas was skating in his 100th NHL game
... The Blackhawks fell to 4-8 in overtime games this season.