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Islanders rally from two-goal deficit to win 7th in row on road

John Tavares (91) and Thomas Vanek (26) congratulate

John Tavares (91) and Thomas Vanek (26) congratulate Kyle Okposo (21) on his goal in the third period of a game against the Dallas Stars. (Jan. 12, 2014) Credit: AP

DALLAS -- Of all the unlikely scenarios produced by the Islanders' latest come-from-behind road win, perhaps the unlikeliest was the Islander who made the eye-popping play to win it.

Calvin de Haan wasn't expected to be a part of this Islanders team after missing all of last season with a shoulder injury.

Once he was called up on Thanksgiving, he wasn't expected to move into the top defense pair after only three games.

And after going without a point in his first 17 NHL games, he certainly couldn't have been expected to foray deep into the Stars' zone in the final 90 seconds with the score tied. Or throw a no-look pass into the slot that John Tavares slammed home, the crowning play of a very unlikely 4-2 win.

After Tavares' goal made it 3-2 at 18:36, Brock Nelson sealed it with an empty-netter 32 seconds later. It was the Islanders' fourth straight win and seventh straight on the road, the first time they've had such a road streak since the Dynasty era.

"I didn't see that coming. I gotta be honest with you," said Kyle Okposo, who benefited from another great play by de Haan to tie the score with 4:16 left in the third, pulling the Islanders back from a 2-0 deficit. "He made a couple great plays on those late goals."

The unassuming de Haan, now with a goal and five assists in the last four games, had to do more with less in the third period. Travis Hamonic left the game after the second period with an illness, dropping the Isles down to five defensemen as they tried to even the score.

Okposo converted Thomas Vanek's feed to make it 2-1 in the second, and the Isles were livid after Tavares was denied a tap-in goal when Trevor Daley slashed his stick in two, with no call.

"All the guys on 'D' had to keep the shifts short, and we were pretty effective doing that," Andrew MacDonald said. "Calvin has already shown some great offensive instincts and his confidence is really growing. It's great to watch."

After a sluggish first period against a Stars team that had dropped five straight, including a 7-3 loss to the Islanders last Monday at the Coliseum, the Isles were in a familiar position. In this seven-game road winning streak, their longest since an eight-game streak from Feb. 27-March 29, 1981, they have come from behind in six of them.

"I'd rather be on a team that gets stronger in the third than one that starts off strong and doesn't keep it going," de Haan said.

His smart plays were the difference. He'd already drawn a penalty on a rush with 7:22 left in the third that didn't pay off, but then he whirled away from pressure and fed Okposo open on the right boards. His wrist shot eluded Dan Ellis, caromed off the post and went in and out of the net so quickly, the red light didn't come on. But the Isles were tied in the late going.

On the next shift by the Isles' top line, de Haan and Vanek had a give-and-go and de Haan, in deep with some of the Islanders on a change, turned and sent a pass in front that seemed to catch everyone off guard. Tavares alertly buried it for his team-leading 21st goal.

"He was spectacular today," Tavares said of de Haan. "The way he's able to escape pressure and avoid contact, there's not many guys in this league who can play like that."

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