The New York Islanders extended their point streak to nine games with yet another tight match that required extra time, but this time they finished the job -- and extended their run to 7-0-2 -- in overtime, converting on a now-not-so-rare overtime 2-on-0 with Kyle Okposo's second goal of the game.
After a Blue Jackets rush was broken up in the high slot, Josh Bailey led the two-car rush up ice. Okposo trailed several steps behind and slowly, giving the situational signal that he wasn't really interested in anything but a rebound. But Bailey, ever the passer, was having none of that. He made moves like he might deke on Cutis McElhinney before skating to the left side and dropping the puck horizontally across the top of the crease, a little too far for Okposo's comfort.
But Okposo made an excellent play to reach the puck, pull it back, and tuck it under McElhinney with a backhand. Two more points. The hard way.
They very nearly lost the game and their points streak in the last minute of regulation, but video review saved them. As Jaroslav Halak (30 shots) saved them on many occasions before that.
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Kyle Okposo opened scoring late in the first period when he followed an interception in the Columbus zone with a quick shot upstairs past McElhinney.
The Jackets tied it up early in the second period on a fortunate bounce, Brandon Saad's skate deflecting a goal-line pass in from the side of the net.
Frans Nielsen took the lead back just two minutes later on the power play, but the Isles played dangerously for the rest of a second period controlled by the trailing Blue Jackets
The Islanders looked better in a fast-paced third period, but of course tempting fate caught up with them. A nice zone entrance and cross-ice pass by David Savard set up Cam Atkinson for a quick and accurate blast from the high slot that tied the game at 2-2 with over 11 minutes to go.
They Almost Blew It
The Blue Jackets almost stole both regulation points in the final minute with a rush up ice where Boone Jenner crashed the net and the puck went over the line. A lengthy video review, however, overturned the goal by declaring Jenner kicked the puck in.
It looked like goalie interference -- the first initial objection to Islanders eyes -- did not occur, but the far dicier issue was whether Jenner kicked it in or Travis Hamonic tapped it in. Upon close, detailed review, it looked like perhaps Hamonic's stick was what pushed it over the line as he tried to scoop it out from behind the net. Certainly Jenner had a kicking motion, though was it on the puck? Or just on Hamonic's stick? And in either case, was it really just his momentum crashing the net or was it really him trying to push it all the way in?
Considering Jenner had essentially kicked the puck to himself twice on his crash to the net before that, maybe the proper karmic outcome was achieved; but it was the final nudge on the puck that was hardest to see on video.
But the entire ordeal really demonstrated the craziness of today's OT era, where a team can be inches and seconds away from coughing up both points, then take two of a suddenly three-point game a few minutes later.
The night began a busy schedule for the Isles in the run-up to the Christmas break: Six games in 10 nights, including tomorrow at home against the Devils.
Here's to hoping for a few less overtime/shootout games over this stretch...though I guess it beats losing in regulation.