Okposo's shootout goal gives Isles win
MONTREAL - From Bridgeport to the Bell Centre in less than a week, Islanders fifth-string goaltender Mikko Koskinen showed he didn't lack confidence or composure, stopping four straight Canadiens in the shootout for a 4-3 win Thursday night.
Michael Grabner scored two goals and Kyle Okposo ripped the game-winning snap shot past Alex Auld in the shootout in the Islanders' comeback win.
In his second NHL start, Koskinen, 22, made 37 saves for his first NHL win. "He was unbelievable tonight,'' said Okposo, who was sent out by Jack Capuano as the fourth Islander in the shootout instead of John Tavares or Matt Moulson. "He stopped everyone in the shootout and he did it convincingly. He wasn't scrambling. He was always right there."
After a scoreless three rounds and Koskinen's stop on Benoit Pouliot, Okposo made Capuano's decision hold up.
"I just tried to make him think I was going high glove,'' Okposo said. "He bit a little bit and I put it low blocker."
Grabner, claimed off waivers from Florida early in the season, now is tied with Moulson and Tavares for the team lead with 19 goals.
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.
Tavares scored in the first period to tie the game and end a 10-game scoring drought.
"It was nice to get one," he said. "It's always nice to get rewarded . . . 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 four-on-four goal at 14:10.
In the second period, the Canadiens unleashed a 20-shot barrage at Koskinen, the emergency call-up from Bridgeport who was forced into a starting role when Kevin Poulin suffered a season-ending knee injury in warmups Tuesday night.
Pouliot beat the screened Koskinen at 5:49 of the second. Shortly after Grabner scored his first goal to tie it, Tomas Plekanec beat Koskinen to make it 3-2 at 18:08.
Before Koskinen's superb showing in the shootout, he made a couple of spectacular stops to keep the Isles in the game. He made a clutch glove save of Scott Gomez's shot with less than seven seconds remaining, and in the second period, Koskinen made a stunning diving stop to rob former Islanders defenseman James Wisniewski at the goal line.
"I would love to play in front of this type of a crowd every night," Koskinen said. "It was awesome."
Said Capuano of the win: "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."
Notes & quotes: Before the game, Capuano said Al Montoya, whom the Isles acquired from the Coyotes on Wednesday, is a "possibility" for tonight's game against the Penguins at the Coliseum. If he does make his Islanders debut, it will set a franchise record - six goalies in one season, not including Evgeni Nabokov, who was claimed on waivers but refused to report. Joel Martin, who has yet to play an NHL game, backed up Koskinen Thursday night.