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Islanders 4, Canadiens 3 (SO)

by Dyan LeBourdais / New York Islanders
The New York Islanders were carried by rookie goaltender Mikko Koskinen on Thursday night as the game against the Montreal Canadiens headed into the shootout. The 22-year-old Finn made one save in the overtime period and stopped all four shots he faced in the shootout in order to help the Islanders defeat the Canadiens 4-3 and earn his first career NHL win.

“I think the first game was real tough with Kevin (Poulin) going down,” Islanders interim head coach Jack Capuano said. “But before the game, I had the utmost confidence in him, knowing that he had a day and a half to prepare himself for this game. He rose to the challenge and he made some key saves, especially the one in the second period. It was huge for us.”

But it was a shootout goal from Kyle Okposo which capped the score and gave the Islanders two points.

“I just tried to make him think I was shooting high glove and then he bit a little bit and I went low blocker,” Okposo said.

Max Pacioretty #67 of the Montreal Canadiens and Frans Nielsen #51 of the New York Islanders fight for the puck behind the net during the NHL game on February 10, 2011 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)
Koskinen added, “It was awesome to see Kyle score. I haven’t won for a while. It was a big win for the team also so it was a great feeling, one of the best so far in my life. Seeing the puck crossing the net, it was unbelievable.”

Both teams battled hard in the third period, but it was a goal from Grabner which sealed the overtime stanza. But with outstanding goaltending from both Koskinen and Montreal’s Alex Auld, neither team was able to score a goal to end the game at the end of 65 minutes and the game went in to the shootout.

Even though the Canadiens outshot the Isles 20-10 in the second period, there was still a lot of good hockey being played. Koskinen showed everyone who doubted him that he’s able to make unbelievable saves and take home a win.

Michael Grabner earned a few of his characteristic and inevitable breakaways, while he was even able to convert on his second opportunity of the period. His goal scored at 17:10 tied the score with the Canadiens for the second time and also gave Islanders center Frans Nielsen his 100th career NHL point.

“He’s a versatile guy,” Capuano said about Grabner. “I think any time that you have the hockey sense and the vision that he has, he thinks the game real well, we can use him in different situations. We used him on the point on the power play and then on the penalty kill. He’s got some speed. He’s dangerous. He can be used on the attack and he’s solid in all three zones with or without the puck.”

Benoit Pouliot scored the Habs second goal of the night to bring them ahead 2-1. Late in the second period, Andrew MacDonald lost an edge and gave the Canadiens a 2-on-1 advantage. Tomas Plekanec converted at 18:09 to steal the Habs third lead of the night (3-2).

Michael Grabner #40 of the New York Islanders celebrates his goal against the Montreal Canadiens during the NHL game on February 10, 2011 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)
The Isles had a good first period. Forward Josh Bailey was making plays and earning breakaways, skating with confidence that’s been missing from his game in recent weeks. And on two separate breakaway opportunities, Canadiens defenseman PK Subban didn’t have a choice but to trip up Bailey and take two penalties.

While playing 4-on-4, Max Pacioretty scored at 14:10 to take a 1-0 lead over the Islanders.

But the Isles continued working hard and John Tavares netted the Islanders first goal to tie the score at 16:35 when he handled a rebound off of Auld and lifted the puck high top right corner.

“It was a great win for us,” Koskinen said. “The guys played unbelievable in front of me. It made my job pretty easy tonight.”

The Islanders will complete the second half of their back-to-back series against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Nassau Coliseum on Friday night.

Islanders lineups:

26 Matt Moulson - 91 John Tavares - 15 PA Parenteau
40 Michael Grabner - 51 Frans Nielsen - 21 Kyle Okposo
44 Rob Schremp - 12 Josh Bailey - 58 Jesse Joensuu
17 Matt Martin - 28 Zenon Konopka - 14 Trevor Gillies

47 Andrew MacDonald - 36 Travis Hamonic
38 Jack Hillen - 27 Milan Jurcina
8 Bruno Gervais - 24 Radek Martinek

1 Mikko Koskinen
34 Joel Martin

6 Ty Wishart (Healthy)
37 Jeremy Colliton (Ribs)
57 Blake Comeau (Concussion)
52 Nathan Lawson (Knee Swelling)
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