Highlighted by Kyle Okposo’s hat trick, the New York Islanders scored eight goals, dominating the Edmonton Oilers 8-1 on Super Bowl Sunday at Barclays Center.
“It was good to put up eight there,” said Okposo, who netted his second career trick. “We had a pretty good team effort tonight. We were going on all cylinders. Definitely nice to get rewarded today.”
Okposo (3G, 1A) led the way with four points, but all four lines got in on the action. John Tavares (2G, 1A) and Nick Leddy (3A) each had three points, while Josh Bailey, Cal Clutterbuck and Nikolay Kulemin also scored for the Islanders, while Johnny Boychuk made sure the Islanders’ back end was represented in the goal column.
It all added up to the Islanders best offensive performance since a 9-3 win over Pittsburgh on Feb. 11, 2011.
“I still think we left some out there, but we did a lot of good things,” Tavares said. “We just stayed consistent with the way we started the game right to the way we finished and a big reason we were able to win the way we did.”
They were relentless right from the drop of the puck, blitzing the Oilers to the tune of three goals in 11:24, chasing former-Islander Anders Nilsson.
Boychuk – in his second game back from an upper-body injury – opened the scoring with a trademark slap shot, blasting the puck past Nilsson at 2:57. Tavares followed it up just over six minutes later, going over the 6’5 goalie’s shoulder and under the crossbar at 9:12. Kulemin put the Islanders up 3-0 shortly after, potting a Frans Nielsen rebound, causing the Oilers to put Cam Talbot in net.
The goaltending change didn’t stop the Islanders’ onslaught. After a three-goal first period, the Islanders raised the bar, scoring four in the middle frame. Okposo scored back-to-back goals, both in similar fashion, snapping wrist shots through traffic in front of Talbot. Less than a minute after Okposo’s second, Connor McDavid put the Oilers on the board, sweeping a rebound past Thomas Greiss.
The goal was Greiss’ only blemish on Sunday, as the goaltender made 30 saves in his first start since Jan. 12.
“When he gets his opportunity, he takes the ball and runs with it,” Head Coach Jack Capuano said of Greiss. “I just had that feeling he’d be in there tonight and play well.”
Josh Bailey’s ninth of the season gave the Islanders a touchdown, while Clutterbuck tacked on the extra point. Bailey had Anders Lee’s shot ricochet off his skate and in, while Clutterbuck skated into the slot and snapped a lethal wrister past Talbot. After two periods, the Islanders led 7-1.
The last order of business was taken care of in the third period, as Okposo completed his hat trick. Posted up by the bottom of the circle, Okposo took a pass from Tavares and snapped a wrister short-side past Talbot for his third of the night and 15th of the season.
All in all, Sunday’s win felt like a just reward for the Islanders, who felt like they had played good hockey in their two losses this week.
“They played so well and came away with no points," Capuano said. "This is a good way to come back and get on track against a good team. We just gotta stick with the program."
The Islanders now set their sights on Columbus, as they head to Ohio to take on the Blue Jackets on Tuesday night. Puck drop is at 7 p.m.