The Islanders scored four unanswered goals, including three in the final five minutes of the third period, to beat the Dallas Stars 4-2 Sunday night at American Airlines Center.
Kyle Okposo scored twice and John Tavares netted the winner with 1:24 to play, as the Islanders overcame a 2-0 deficit for the second time in a week against the Stars. The win was the Islanders fourth in a row and extended their road winning streak to seven games, both season highs.
“It was a big win for us,” Okposo said. “The first period wasn’t our best, but we stuck with it and turned the tide in the second period. We stuck with it and were able to find a way to get two points.”
Tavares had an easy tap-in for the winner, thanks to a fantastic pass from Calvin de Haan, who had the primary helper on the tying and winning goals. The Islanders rookie turned as if he were heading into the corner, but feathered the pass back out front to the driving captain.
“I just went hard to the net and Cal made a heck of a pass,” Tavares said. “I loved his reaction, he almost didn’t know what to do.”
Brock Nelson iced the game with an empty-net goal in the final minute, stunning the crowd at American Airlines Center. In total, four Islanders (Tavares, Okposo, de Haan and Thomas Vanek) finished the game with two points.
“It’s good to have a team that can play the third period as their best period, whether you’re ahead or behind,” said de Haan.
The Stars were also stunned by the turn of events, as they came out firing, putting 16 shots on Kevin Poulin – and two goals – in the first period. Ray Whitney opened the scoring at 11:45 with a one-timer, while Sergei Gonchar potted his first as a Star at 18:12.
“They did a lot of good things in the first and put us back on our heels,” head coach Jack Capuano said. “We came out in the second and established our forecheck and got pucks deep. It started to turn there.”
The Islanders responded by outshooting the Stars 22-15 the rest of the way and chipped away at the two-goal lead. The top line cut the deficit to one midway through the second period, as Okposo finished a play where all three forwards touched the puck. First, Tavares dished over to Vanek, who spun around and found a trailing Okposo, who made no mistake burying his first of two goals.
In the third, Okposo skated to the top of the circle in the Stars zone, allowed a screen to develop in front of Dan Ellis and snapped a wrist shot top corner.
Poulin made 29 saves – including all 15 after the first period – en route to his fifth win in a row. Ellis was solid throughout the game, stopping 27-of-30 shots in the loss.
The Islanders continue their six-game road trip in Florida, as they take on the Panthers at BB&T Center Tuesday night. Puck drop from Sunrise goes at 7:30 p.m.
NOTES: Andrew MacDonald (24:12) and John Tavares (24:11) led the Islanders in TOI… Kyle Okposo has points in 10-of-12 (9-7-16)… Brock Nelson has goals in two straight and in three of his last four… Colin McDonald led the Islanders with six hits.
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