Where have you heard this before . . . The Islanders created a track meet with one of the league’s top teams, and in doing so, proved they at least have the ability to compete with the best of them. No, this was not last year’s first round of the playoffs, when they ran up and down the ice with the Penguins in a six-game series loss. This was Thursday night at the Coliseum, and it was the Islanders running all over the place against the visiting Blackhawks — who, in equal measure, ran all over the Islanders. The result was a 3-2 overtime win for the Islanders, as Kyle Okposo got the game-winner less than a minute into the 4-on-4 extra period. It was announced Wednesday that Okposo had not made the U.S. Olympic team — despite having the second-most points among U.S.-born players — and after he scored, the 13,618 started chanting “U-S-A, U-S-A.” With wins in Boston and Minnesota to end 2013, the Islanders now have their first three-game winning streak of the season. Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov was making his second start in a row, and his eighth in the past nine games since returning from a groin injury. The first two periods were unquestionably the best he has played all season, and it was reminiscent of this past spring, when he carried to the team to their first postseason berth since 2007. He allowed the Islanders to open the third period with a 2-1 lead, and on the man-advantage. But less than 20 seconds after Patrick Sharp came out of the penalty box, he drove the net, with the rebound getting slammed home by Ben Smith, tying it 2-2. The Islanders (14-21-7) came into the game having just seven regulation wins on the season, four of them coming in the past six contests. The last game they played in 2013 was against the Bruins in Boston, when they came back from a 3-1 deficit to win, 5-3. That was preceded by coming back from a 3-0 hole in Minnesota against the Wild to win, 5-4.
Okposo comes up big in OT as Isles top Blackhawks
New York Post | Jan 3