Okposo paces Isles’ rally from 3 down to top Wild

The freefalling Minnesota Wild left their coach speechless on

Sunday night.

It wasn’t for a good reason.

Kyle Okposo scored twice midway through the third period, and

the New York Islanders overcame a three-goal deficit to beat the

Wild 5-4 on Sunday night.

John Tavares, Cal Clutterbuck and Thomas Hickey also scored for

the Islanders, who won for the third time in eight games.

Tavares rejoined the lineup one night after sitting out a home

game against New Jersey because of an undisclosed lower-body

injury.

Ryan Suter, Jonas Brodin, Nino Niederreiter and Justin Fontaine

had goals for the Wild, who have lost five straight and eight of

11.

”It was there for us. That’s the disturbing part,” Wild coach

Mike Yeo said. ”It’s hard to find the words for this because this

is beyond disturbing right now.

”We have to find a way to win that game. You’re up 3-0 and

you’re at home. There’s no excuses.”

Coming off a winless four-game road trip in which they were

outscored 19-8, the Wild fell to 15-4-2 at home. They had won 10 of

12 there and 14 of 17. Minnesota has home games during the upcoming

week against St. Louis, Buffalo and Washington.

At the season’s halfway point, Minnesota is tied for ninth place

in the Western Conference with Dallas. Four of their next six games

are against top-eight teams in the conference.

”You just need to win. That’s the only way you come out of

this,” Wild captain Mikko Koivu said. ”The only way you can win

in this league is to play a good 60-minute game. We’re going to

analyze it (Monday) and find a way.”

The Islanders didn’t play a complete game, either, but they were

good enough.

”We just kept chipping away and kept chipping away,” Okposo

said. ”We were down 3-0, and kind of regrouped. We decided to go

after them and start moving our feet.

”For the first 22 minutes we weren’t doing that, so we decided

to get pucks deep and go to the net.”

Okposo’s second goal capped a wild 2-minute span in which the

Islanders took the lead, lost it, and regained it.

Okposo, who played 1 1-2 seasons at the University of Minnesota,

scored the winner with 5:48 to play when he raced in from the left

wall and put in a rebound after Thomas Vanek was stopped by Josh

Harding.

The goal came 27 seconds after Fontaine lifted a rebound over

New York goalie Kevin Poulin to tie it 4-4. Okposo had given the

Islanders a 4-3 lead 92 seconds earlier when his slap shot beat

Harding low on the glove side.

With the Islanders trailing 3-0 midway through the second

period, Tavares took a shot from the right edge of the crease that

hit Koivu’s skate. The New York captain reached in and poked the

puck across the line.

Clutterbuck, traded for Niederreiter on June 30, tipped in a

shot from Hickey late in the period to get the Islanders within one

goal.

Hickey tied it at 6:30 of the third, cutting across the crease

to tip a pass from Colin McDonald high into the Wild net.

”We’ve had our struggles, and they’re a good hockey team,

they’re going to get through it,” said Islanders coach Jack

Capuano, whose team lost 10 straight from Nov. 19 to Dec. 9. ”We

didn’t talk anything about what they’ve done or their record. We

just wanted to keep applying the pressure to them.”

Harding returned after missing four games to adjust his

medications for multiple sclerosis, but the Wild played their third

straight game without their best offensive player. Zach Parise was

placed on the injured list on Saturday because of a bruised

foot.

Even without Parise, Minnesota had the game’s first eight shots,

the last of which gave the Wild a 1-0 lead early in the first

period when Suter’s wrist shot on a rebound beat Poulin. It was

Suter’s first goal in 51 games.

Brodin and Niederreiter scored in the first 3 minutes of the

second period for a 3-0 lead.

Poulin got a piece of a wrist shot from Brodin after the

defenseman took a pass from Koivu, but the puck trickled across the

line at 39 seconds. The assist was the 300th of Koivu’s career. He

added No. 301 at 2:59 when Niederreiter – the Islanders top pick in

the 2010 draft – beat Poulin from in front.

”The first half of the game I thought we looked great, and then

the execution the second half of the game,” Yeo said. ”There’s a

lot that’s between the ears right now that we have to fix.”

NOTES: New York was missing forwards Michael Grabner (illness)

and Josh Bailey (upper-body). Each is considered day-to-day. …

Suter played 33 minutes, 14 seconds, the sixth time in eight games

he has exceeded the 30-minute mark. … The Islanders are 12-4-2

when they score at least three goals and are 0-17-5 when they

don’t. … Minnesota welcomed the 10-millionth fan to watch the

team at the Xcel Energy Center.