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Islanders hand 'Canes 14th consecutive loss, 4-3 in OT

by John Kreiser /
Luckily for the New York Islanders, Kyle Okposo got well quickly.

Okposo, who missed Wednesday's game with the H1N1 virus and wasn't supposed to make the trip to Carolina, scored the game-winning goal with 14.4 seconds left in overtime to give the Islanders a 4-3 victory over Carolina, handing the Hurricanes their 14th consecutive loss.

"I feel pretty good," said Okposo, who didn't make the trip to Washington for the opener of the Isles' seven-game trip. "It felt good to contribute again. It's tough watching."

Okposo, a late addition to the lineup, picked off a bad pass by rookie defenseman Brian Rodney just inside the Carolina blue line, broke into the left circle and whipped a wrist shot past Manny Legace -- spoiling a big comeback by the Hurricanes.

"I looked up and felt something on my stick," Okposo said. "I just tried to shoot something quick. Fortunately, it got over his pad."

Rookie John Tavares scored twice in the Islanders' three-goal first period, but the Hurricanes forced overtime with two goals in the second and one in the third.

"This is a tough one to take because of obviously the mistake I made at the end," Rodney said. "It cost us. To do that to the rest of the guys in the room is tough to swallow. I guess we'll look at the positives.

"We fought hard to get back in the game. We earned the point today."

After a slow start, the Islanders are 6-2-3 in their last 11 games.

"We're really finding our chemistry," Tavares said. "We're making the big plays when we need them most."

Tavares, the No. 1 pick in the Entry Draft last June, sandwiched a pair of goals around one by Mark Streit to give the Islanders a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes. But the Hurricanes got goals by Tuomo Ruutu and Ray Whitney in the second period before defenseman Tim Gleason tied the game with 2:31 left in regulation, beating Martin Biron with a slap shot from the right point.

The Hurricanes are now 0-10-4 in their last 14 games since beating Florida 7-2 on Oct. 9 -- matching the franchise record for longest winless streak, set in 1992 when team was based in Hartford.

It looked like this would be an easy one for the Islanders, who capitalized on a double-minor penalty to Gleason to score two power-play goals after Gleason was called for roughing and drew an extra two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Tavares got his first goal on a move his uncle, indoor lacrosse star John Tavares, would have been proud of. Matt Moulson's shot hit the end glass and rebounded high in the air back over the net. From just outside the crease, Tavares waited for the puck to get below the crossbar and bunted it into the net at 3:38.

"It just came off the glass. I saw it coming over, and I don't think Legace saw it coming back," he told MSG Plus during a between-periods interview. "I just tried to time it right, and fortunately I was able to get it."

The Islanders needed almost all of the second penalty to score, but they made it 2-0 at 5:35 when Streit blasted a slap shot past Legace from the left circle.

New York came close during a third power play after Aaron Ward was called for tripping at 11:33, and Tavares made it 3-0 seven seconds after the power play ended by nudging home a loose puck after a scramble.

But after being outshot 7-3 in the opening period, the Hurricanes regrouped at intermission and began to dominate play in the second.

Ruutu got the 'Canes on the board at 8:52 of the second period, flipping a power-play rebound over a prone Biron. Whitney cut the deficit to one goal with a tip-in at 11:17. Carolina outshot the Islanders 14-6 in the second.

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