COLUMBUS, Ohio — Last night was another Islanders game that included a blown third-period lead (three straight games of that) and another trip to overtime (five straight). They also were down a forward after 40 minutes (two straight).
But they do not get down on themselves and there is a little bit of good fortune on the Islanders side. Their 3-2 overtime win over the Blue Jackets came to fruition after a lengthy video review overturned the possible game-winner by Columbus with 47.7 seconds to go in the third, followed by a disjointed two-on-none break that Kyle Okposo finished off at 2:16 of the extra period to put the Isles at 7-0-2 in their last nine.
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“We’ve done a pretty good job getting the two points when we haven’t been at our best,” said Okposo, who scored twice and assisted on Frans Nielsen’s power-play goal. “We know we can’t sustain this.”
Despite his three-point night, Okposo and his top line mates, John Tavares and Brock Nelson, struggled at even strength. It wasn’t as off a night for them as it was for the entire Isles team on Tuesday in Philadelphia, when they were outshot 45-26 but pulled out a 4-3 shootout win.
“We have a lot of skilled guys on this team and they may want to make the sexy play,” Jack Capuano said, “but that’s not always the right play to make. Our discipline and decision-making have to be better.”
The Isles were a step behind in the opening 40 minutes, fortunate to hold a 2-1 lead entering the third. Ryan Strome wasn’t available from then on, however, with an upper-body injury, presumably suffered when he was hit from behind into the boards by Columbus’ Andrew Bodnarchuk late in the first period.
Down to 11 forwards, the Isles played a strong third. But Cam Atkinson’s high-slot shot crept under Jaroslav Halak’s arm at 8:20 to tie the game and make things tighter as the period wound down.
The Blue Jackets thought they had the game won when Boone Jenner jammed the puck over the line with under a minute left. The in-goal camera seemed to clearly show Jenner kicking the puck over the line and a four-minute review eventually confirmed it.
“I had a really good view. I don’t know why it took so long,” said Halak, who was superb yet again and finished with 28 saves, 21 of them in the first 40 minutes. “At least we had some luck on our side at the end of the game.”
In OT, Okposo broke up a play at his own blue line and sent Josh Bailey in alone. Okposo trailed behind, yelling at Bailey to take it himself; the message was not received. Bailey dropped the puck for Okposo who, a bit off balance, tucked a shot under Curtis McElhinney with one hand on his stick for the winner.
“It worked out,” Okposo said.
The Islanders continued to inch up into the rarer air of the Metro Division with the win, even (for the moment) with the Rangers at 39 points and three back of the division-leading Caps.
How they got there may not be the way they want, but the points count just the same.