From Bridgeport to the Bell Centre in less than a week, fifth-string goaltender Mikko Koskinen showed no lack of confidence nor composure in stopping four straight Canadiens in the shootout for a 4-3 win last night.
Michael Grabner tallied two goals and Kyle Okposo ripped the game-winning snapshot past Alex Auld to help the Islanders toward a spirited come-from-behind victory.
In his second NHL start, Mikko Koskinen made 37 saves to secure his first NHL win. He stopped Brian Gionta, Max Pacioretty, Tomas Plekanec and Benoit Pouliot and seemed entirely unfazed by the whole affair.
"He was unbelievable tonight. He stopped everyone in the shootout and he did it convincingly. He wasn't scrambling, he was always right there," said Okposo, who was selected by coach Jack Capuano as the fourth shooter in the shooutout instead of sniper John Tavares or top-line winger Matt Moulson.
After a scoreless three rounds and Koskinen's fourth stop on Pouliot , Okposo made Capuano's decision look good.
"I just tried to make him think I was going high-glove. He bit a little bit and I put it low blocker," Okposo said.
Okposo's linemate Grabner, claimed off waivers from Florida early in the season, is now tied with Moulson and Tavares for the team lead with 19 goals after his pair last night.
With the Islanders trailing 3-2 in the third, Grabner scored his second at 4:08 to tie it. He scraped the puck out from behind the net and banked it off Auld’s pads to erase the Islanders' third one-goal deficit of the game.
Tavares, whose goaltending interference penalty negated what would have been a man-advantage in the first, also scored his 19th of the season. His marker came at 16:35 to tie the game and end a season-high 10-game scoring drought.
"It was nice to get one," Tavares said. " It's always nice to get rewarded, especially after taking that penalty there. It gave us a little momentum going into the second period."
Montreal had taken the lead when Max Pacioretty one-timed a no-look feed for a 4-on-4 goal at 14:10.
Montreal unleashed a barrage of 20 shots in the second period on Koskinen, the emergency call-up from Bridgeport who has forced into a starting role when Kevin Poulin suffered a season-ending knee injury in the warmups before Tuesday’s game against Toronto.
Pouliot beat the screened Koskinen at 5:49. Shortly after Grabner tallied his first goal, Plekanec beat Koskinen for the go-ahead goal at 18:08.
Even before the 22-year-old Finnish prospect's superb showing in the shootout, he made a couple of spectacular stops to hold the Islanders in the game.
Before his clutch glove save of Scott Gomez' shot with less than seven seconds remaining in the game, Koskinen made a stunning diving stop to rob former Islander defenseman James Wisniewski at the goal line in the second period. All this in front of a sellout crowd at one of the league's most intimidating venues.
"I would love to play in front of this type of a crowd every night," Koskinen said. "It was awesome."
Capuano was not only thrilled for his former Bridgeport charge, but his entire team for their scrappiness in battling back against the Habs throughout the night.
"It was a total team effort tonight. I thought we played exceptionally well. I thought we played great in the third and [Koskinen] gave us the chance."