UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- New York Islanders forward Kyle Okposo would be the first to tell you he struggled through much of last season. The Islanders' first-round pick (No. 7) at the 2006 NHL Draft had four goals in 48 regular-season games, a huge dip from the 24 goals he scored in 79 games in 2011-12.
Things changed during the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs. With the Islanders trailing 3-1 in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal against the Pittsburgh Penguins, forward Matt Moulson was hit hard by Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen in the neutral zone. Okposo, knowing his team needed a lift, challenged Niskanen to a fight.
Okposo landed a couple of early right hands to Niskanen's face, leaving a cut under his left eye. Fourteen seconds after play resumed, Colin McDonald scored to make it a one-goal game. Just over five minutes later, Matt Martin got the Islanders even. Okposo scored the game-winner midway through the third period, then scored two more goals in the series before the Islanders were eliminated in six games.
"It was kind of the moment and I thought we could use a little spark," Okposo recalled to NHL.com at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Wednesday. "It just kind of happened. I didn't even really see the hit, I just saw he kind of got hurt a little bit, so I wanted to jump-start the boys."