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(Thursday, January 2nd)
Final Score: NY Islanders 3, Chicago 2 (OT)
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 result.
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 session.
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 results."
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.
01/02 23:17:47 ET
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