Even when the Islanders are down by two goals and getting victimized by the likes of Sidney Crosby and the Penguins' power play, all is not lost. Not this team, not this season.
With his first career four-goal game, Kyle Okposo pulled the Islanders back from a 2-0 first-period deficit for a 6-3 win over the Penguins Friday night at Nassau Coliseum.
The Islanders (30-13-1) moved into first place in the Eastern Conference, a point ahead of the Lightning, and took a three-point lead over the second-place Penguins in the Metropolitan Division.
Okposo scored to bring the Islanders within 2-1 in the first period and then scored three straight goals in the third period, turning a 3-2 deficit into a 5-3 lead and giving him 13 this season. Michael Grabner scored with 1:13 left to seal the victory.
Okposo's wrister off a pretty feed from Josh Bailey 11:51 into the third period gave the Islanders a 4-3 advantage. He added a power-play goal with 2:31 left.
Okposo has 13 goals in 34 career games against the Penguins. "I think you play well against certain teams," he said. "I seem to have a little bit of puck luck for some reason. I get fired up to play these guys because they have such good players up there. It's a tough test every time they come here or we go there and they're fun games to play."
It wasn't a whole lot of fun for the Islanders at the start, though.
The Isles entered the game with the NHL's fifth-worst penalty-kill percentage and the Penguins came in with the sixth-best power-play percentage. Appropriately, Crosby tipped Chris Kunitz's man-advantage shot from the right point past Jaroslav Halak at 10:52 of the first period for his first goal in four games against the Islanders this season.
Ninety seconds later, the Penguins got another power-play goal when David Perron's slap shot went through Halak's legs for a 2-0 lead.
"It was probably one of the fastest games of the year," coach Jack Capuano said. "It was a track meet, and that wasn't something that we wanted to get into with that team . . . We were resilient tonight. They got a couple of power plays early but this team never quits."
Late in the first period, John Tavares victimized Simon Despres near the goal, working inside and around the defenseman to move to the crease and feed Okposo, who tipped in the puck off his skate at 16:51. It was Tavares' 200th career assist.
Ryan Strome then scored on a nifty spin move on a rebound off Marc-Andre Fleury, sending the puck past two Penguins and through Fleury's legs for the equalizer 12:31 into the second period.
The lead didn't last too long, though. Crosby scored his second goal of the game and 14th of the season, beating Halak with 4.4 seconds left in the period during a delayed penalty on Travis Hamonic.
"We could have hung our heads and that could have been it," Okposo said. "But I think we did a really good job sticking with it and playing our game in the third."
Okposo epitomized that work ethic more than most. He said he'd never had a hat trick before.
"Every time you see someone get one, you think, I'd like to have one of those in my back pocket," he said. "It was definitely rewarding for me."