Okposo paces Isles’ rally from 3 down to top Wild
The freefalling Minnesota Wild left their coach speechless on
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
Ryan Suter, Jonas Brodin, Nino Niederreiter and Justin Fontaine
had goals for the Wild, who have lost five straight and eight of
”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
”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
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
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
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.