Christmas break was good to Kyle Okposo as he scored the game winnning goal in overtime to lift the Islanders to a 3-2 victory over the New York Rangers in overtime.
Okposo took a Frans Nielsen pass just above the Rangers blue line and fired a wrist shot first off Marc Staal, then the right post and past Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist to give the Islanders the victory with 47 seconds left in the extra frame.
"It was a fun way to do it especially in this building," Okposo said. "We were up 2-0 and coming back like the way we did in overtime and to get those two points felt good."
The goal was a pretty nice late Christmas present for Okposo - it was his first after going the previous 18 games without one.
"It definitely weighed on me a little bit," Okposo noted. "It feels like a big monkey of my back now."
Islanders Head Coach Scott Gordon felt the same way.
"It's obviously huge for Kyle, a big goal for us, a big two points," Gordon said.
The first period was without much action - both teams only registered five shots each - but the Islanders made the first dent on the scoreboard first 7:45 in to the first period thanks to Nielsen's sixth goal of the season.
Josh Bailey initiated the play when he attempted to break out for a breakaway, but missed the pass. However, Bailey retrieved the puck behind the net, and dropped the puck off to a streaking Kyle Okposo. Okposo turned his back slightly while Nielsen darted for the net and dished a behind-the-back pass over to his line mate for the easy put-in behind Lundqvist to give the Islanders a 1-0 lead.
"There's one thing you don't have to worry about Kyle is that his work ethic is second to none on our team," Gordon said. "He's been making some plays that have given other players to score goals."
Brendan Witt took a hooking penalty at 13:17 in the second period to give the Rangers their first power play. However, the results were not what the Rangers had planned.
With the Rangers holding the 2nd best home power play in the NHL, Blake Comeau gave the Islanders a two-goal lead with a shorthanded goal with 5:39 left in the second period.
Kyle Okposo alluded a Michael Del Zotto hit and kept churning down the boards into the Rangers zone. As Ales Kotalik tried to knock Okposo down, Okposo sent a centering pass to a streaking Comeau who skated in on Lundqvist. Comeau drew the Rangers netminder down to the ice and slid the puck between Lundqvist's legs for the 2-0 Islanders lead.
"That's just all battle," Gordon noted. "It's hard work and second effort. Anyone that’s an Islander fan knows about that and he does it in all situations."
Dwayne Roloson stopped 15 shots in the second period to hold down the fort for the Islanders as they took a two-goal lead into the final frame.
Brandon Dubinsky cut the Islanders lead in half with his fifth goal of the season 6:07 into the third period. As Blake Comeau was emerging form the penalty box, Dubinsky corralled a rebound off a Chrus Drury slapshot. As Roloson went down to make the save, Dubinsky gave himself a little room and slid the puck past the Islanders netminder to bring the score to 2-1.
Roloson continued to shine in net for the Islanders in the third period, making two key back-to-back saves on Marian Gaborik with just over four minutes left in the final frame to preserve the Islanders lead for the time being.
However, Dubinsky scored his second of the game with 47 seconds left in the third period to tie the score at 2-2. With Lundqvist pulled for an extra attacker, Dubinsky deflected a Ryan Callahan slapshot through Roloson’s legs to force the game to extra time.
Three Stars of the Game:
1. Kyle Okposo, NYI: Scored game winning goal, two assists. 2. Brandon Dubinsky, NYR: Two goals 3. Dwayne Roloson, NYI: 36 saves for the win
Slapshots: Rangers outshot the Islanders, 38-22...Both teams were 0-for-3 on the power play...Jeff Tambellini and Freddy Meyer (both healthy) were the Islanders scratches...This was the fourth meeting between both teams, with the Islanders holding a 2-1-0 advantage over the Rangers prior to Saturday’s match up...Islanders now hold an all-time record of 101-103-22 against the Rangers.
Jack is Back: Tim Jackman returned to the line up after missing the past seven games with a hip-pointer injury. He retook his spot on the fourth line alongside Richard Park and Nate Thompson, while Jon Sim was moved up to the third line. Jesse Joensuu was returned to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers to make room for Jackman’s return.
Lone Zebra: Due to weather related travel complications, referee Dean Morton was not able to make it to Madison Square Garden in time for the first period. Stephen Walkom served as the lone referee until Morton arrived just after the second period resumed.
NEW YORK RANGERS
Forwards 10 Marian Gaborik - 17 Brandon Dubinsky - 20 Vinny Prospal
21 Christopher Higgins - 42 Artem Anisimov - 24 Ryan Callahan
16 Sean Avery - 23 Chris Drury - 81 Enver Lisin
87 Donald Brashear - 12 Ales Kotalik - 22 Brian Boyle
5 Dan Girardi - 4 Michael Del Zotto
97 Matt Gilroy - 6 Wade Redden
18 Marc Staal - 33 Michal Roszival