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A blog by a long time New York Islanders fan who stays true to the fellas wearing orange, white and blue…but thinks the Islanders organization has some shaping up to do.

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

K.O. KOs Flu, 'Canes in OT

Islanders 4: Hurricanes 3

Put yourself in this situation: You're a young hockey player. You've been mostly bedridden for the past few days from the H1N1 virus, and just recently you've rejoined your team as they continue with their November road trip. What do you do?

If you're Kyle Okposo, you score the game-winning goal in overtime.

In yet another topsy-turvy- and at times, frustrating- matchup in which the Islanders took a 3-0 lead early and couldn't sustain it, Okposo was the difference-maker. He ripped a shot past Manny Legace with 15 seconds left in the OT session, securing the second point for his squad, which really the Isles should have had all along.

However, this team has gone from having certain problems in certain periods to having new problems in different periods. Lately, the trend has been getting out to an early start and then losing it in the second period. Why, exactly, no one knows for sure. But it was the case in Raleigh, as the Isles mounted a quick 3-0 lead.

John Tavares dominated the first, scoring two goals on Legace (one a power-play goal). Mark Streit also scored on one of the many PP opportunities the Isles had thanks to very undisciplined play by the Hurricanes on the ice, and the Isles headed out of the first and into the second feeling pretty good about themselves. And then the Canes took over.

For their part, the Isles did end up taking some silly penalties, leading to Carolina flexing its muscles on special teams. Tuomo Ruutu converted early in the second, and then Ray Whitney got in front of the net and cut the lead to 3-2. Suddenly, all of the momentum was in their hands as they evened the shot total and put tons of pressure on Martin Biron and the defense (which is still working out some kinks- or has to, anyway).

The tying goal the Canes were looking for came late in the third period, as Tim Gleason blasted a shot past Biron to make it 3-3. The RBC Center went from sounding like a library to like a riot, and the Isles found themselves going to a place where they have definitely been before- overtime.

That's where our man Kyle comes in. Though Carolina had been dictating the game to this point, he seized an opportunity when they failed on a clearing attempt and he got the puck. Heading in on a 2-on-1, he took the shot when he saw the pass was unavailable, and I'm sure he's glad he did- the shot went right past Legace, and the game ended, 4-3 Isles. Way to make a comeback, in every sense of the word.

Afterward, yes, everyone was making some jokes about Kyle and the flu, many of which were actually pretty funny. But this was also reinforced: having the younger guys- Okposo, Tavares- contributing on the ice shows a lot about the direction the Isles are going in for the future. These guys are doing very well very early in their careers, and they've got a long way to go yet. It's definitely going to be exciting to see them as they develop even more from this point on.


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