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Islanders edge Kings in shootout

by Curtis Zupke

LOS ANGELES -- A road trip that started out on a dire note looks a lot better after a Southern California sweep for the New York Islanders.

Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo scored in the shootout to give the Islanders a 2-1 win against the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night at Staples Center.

The Islanders, who were outscored 8-1 in losing the first two games of their trip, defeated the Kings and Anaheim Ducks on consecutive nights and are 2-2-0 on a five-game swing that ends Saturday at the Arizona Coyotes.

"For us, as a group, it was an awesome effort for us to be able come in here after playing two really good teams and to be able to get four points here," Islanders goaltender Chad Johnson said. "It's a good confidence booster for us. I think we should definitely take positives from this game and use it for the games coming up here."

Nielsen wristed a shot five-hole on Kings goalie Jonathan Quick after Okposo roofed a backhander for the only goals in the shootout. Johnson stopped Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter to outduel Quick.

Okposo, who remains goal-less in eight career games against the Kings, gladly took the win on a night when both teams appeared weary from the schedule.

"We were tired there in the third, but we hung with it, stuck with the game plan and we really just kind of gutted it out and got a gutty win," Okposo said. "The last two games were huge for us. We got a big win last night, and to come in and play back-to-back in Southern California is not an easy thing to do.

"I've said it all year [that] we're not the same team. We went on a three-game skid and everyone wanted to hit the panic button, but in here we didn't because we know what kind of team we have and we're a good hockey club."

The Kings had their six-game home winning streak snapped; they outscored opponents 19-5 in regulation and overtime during that streak. But defenseman Drew Doughty said Los Angeles was prepared just 48 hours after coming off a long road trip and he liked a lot of what he saw.

"I don't think by any means did they dominate the game or anything like that," Doughty said. "Our power play needs to be better. We need to capitalize that way. Our penalty kill was pretty good. It was kind of a lucky goal for them there. We've got to be better. We want to be a good team at home and tonight we weren't."

Quick helped the Kings survive a 12-5 shot disadvantage in the second period. In the third, he stopped Brock Nelson in the slot and Anders Lee on a rush, and in overtime he stopped Lubomir Visnovsky on a one-timer off a down-low feed from Thomas Hickey.

But neither team could finish its chances or convert power plays. The Kings were 0-for-4 and the Islanders were 1-for-5, with their goal an atypical one allowed by Quick.

Nelson tied it 1-1 with his team-leading seventh goal at 16:32 of the first period with Mike Richards serving a tripping penalty. Nelson got open near the goal line, turned and threaded a shot between the right post and Quick, who did not completely cover the post.

The Kings came out with jump and scored 3:49 into the game when Dwight King deflected Richards' pass from the corner and had the puck trickle into the net. That would be it for their scoring, but it wasn't for a lack of trying. The Kings won 33 of 55 faceoffs but also committed 16 giveaways.

"We held a top team to one goal, and we would have liked to score one more," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said.

The Islanders got nearly six minutes of power-play time in the second period after Kings defenseman Brayden McNabb took a high-sticking double minor. But they managed two shots on goal during the four-minute advantage, though Visnovsky did hit the crossbar.

Islanders center John Tavares was held without a shot on goal and lost six off 11 faceoffs, though he did have the primary assist on Nelson's goal. The Islanders also had 11 giveaways but didn't pay a big price.

"I think it's one of the best games we've played all year," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "We managed the puck. We executed on every aspect of the game … we knew it would be a battle in here tonight. It's a big physical team, and I thought we responded."

Los Angeles right wing Justin Williams missed the game with an eye injury and had his consecutive games played streak end at 225, the longest among active Kings.

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