Okposo helps Islanders snap road slide

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By Phil Foley

PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

ATLANTA (Ticker) -- The New York Islanders finally picked up a

victory away from home. But not without a near-colossal

collapse.

Rookie Kyle Okposo recorded his first career two-goal game as

the Islanders avoided a major meltdown in the third period en

route to a 5-4 triumph over the Atlanta Thrashers on Thursday.

Trent Hunter, Tim Jackman and Doug Weight also scored for New

York, which halted a 14-game road losing streak (0-13-1). The

Islanders had not posted a win away from Nassau Coliseum since

edging the Montreal Canadiens, 4-3, in a shootout on November

24.

All-Star defenseman Mark Streit and rookie Josh Bailey each

notched two assists and Yann Danis made 33 saves for the

Islanders, who entered the third with a four-goal lead only to

watch the Thrashers cut it to one.

Rich Peverley registered a goal and two assists while All-Star

Ilya Kovalchuk, rookie defenseman Zach Bogosian and Marty

Reasoner also scored for Atlanta, which has lost three in a row.

The 2008-09 campaign has been a miserable one for New York,

which was on the brink of matching streaks of futility that

befuddled the expansion 1972-73 club some 36 years ago. Luckily

for them, the Islanders started the second half with a road

contest against the offensively challenged Thrashers.

New York wasted little time turning a half-empty arena in

"Blueland" into "Boo-land."

Hunter beat goaltender Kari Lehtonen on the Islanders' first

scoring opportunity, walking down the slot and faking a slap

shot before sliding the puck around the Finn's outstretched left

pad just 55 seconds into the contest.

Okposo doubled the lead at 7:29, beating Lehtonen from the

bottom of the slot after receiving a backhand pass from the

right side of the net from Bailey.

A defensive breakdown by the listless Thrashers, who allowed 20

shots in the first period, led to the Islanders' third goal just

under three minutes later.

Andy Hilbert blistered a slap shot from the left faceoff circle

that glanced off the glove of Lehtonen. As the puck trickled

toward the right goalpost, no Atlanta defender bothered to check

Jackman, who easily backhanded it into the net with 9:35

remaining in the period.

Weight, who missed New York's previous seven games with a leg

injury, sent Lehtonen to the bench to a chorus of boos with 6:43

to go, burying a rebound on the doorstep for his eight goal of

the season and a 4-0 bulge. Lehtonen stopped just 11 shots

before being replaced by Johan Hedberg, who was saddled with the

hard-luck loss despite allowing just one goal on 18 shots.

Following a scoreless middle period, the Islanders nearly

self-destructed in the third.

Bogosian got Atlanta on the board with a one-timer from the blue

line just 26 seconds into the session, Peverley backhanded the

puck past Danis on a breakaway at 6:20 for a power-play goal and

Reasoner cut the deficit to 4-3 just 2:16 later with his eighth

tally.

But Okposo, who was drafted seventh overall in 2006, deposited

the puck past Hedberg from alone in front after getting a feed

from the right side by Bailey with 7:21 remaining to push New

York's advantage to 5-3. The goal came on the Islanders' first

shot of the period.

Kovalchuk got the Thrashers back within one by deflecting

defenseman Tobias Enstrom's blast from the blue line past Danis

with 58 seconds left, but Atlanta failed to register another

shot against the netminder.

New York, which lost the first three meetings between the teams,

has won consecutive games for the first time since November

22-24.

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