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NHL

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Associated Press
New York Islanders' Thomas Vanek, front right, shoots the puck past Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) as Blackhawks' Michal Handzus, back left, tries to defend in the second period of an NHL hockey game on Thursday, in Uniondale, N.Y.

Okposo’s OT goal lifts Islanders over Chicago

UNIONDALE, N.Y. – Kyle Okposo scored 58 seconds into overtime, and the New York Islanders beat the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 after blowing a two-goal lead on Thursday night.

One day after Okposo was disappointed by not being chosen for the U.S. Olympic team, he snapped a drive past goalie Corey Crawford – drawing chants of “U-S-A! U-S-A!” as he was interviewed on the ice.

Casey Cizikas scored in his 100th NHL game, and Thomas Vanek added a goal for the Islanders. Defenseman Andrew MacDonald had two assists, and Evgeni Nabokov made 37 saves.

Brent Seabrook, in the second period, and Ben Smith early in the third scored to help the defending Stanley Cup champions rally from a 2-0 deficit.

Crawford returned from a 10-game injury absence and improved as the game went on, shining after his club got even. He finished with 31 saves.

Crawford appeared to fight the puck for much of the game, with several drives bouncing off him. But he was strong in the third period.

The Islanders have a four-game winning streak on the road, but haven’t had recent success at home. Since their last regulation win at Nassau Coliseum on Nov. 12 against Nashville, the Islanders are just 2-5-4 there.

Chicago is 8-1-3 in its last 12 games.

Several inches of snow piled up in the parking lot and on cars during the game. The Islanders offered all ticket-holders, whether they came to the game or not, the opportunity to exchange tickets for any weekday home game this season. Also, hot dogs and sodas were discounted to $2.

Though the crowd thinned after the second period, many seats were filled despite the ominous forecast that called for upward of 10 inches of snow by Friday.

Many in the crowd were decked out in Blackhawks red, but when cheers of “Let’s Go Hawks!” went up, they were met with boos and counter calls of “Let’s Go Islanders!”

Smith’s tying goal 1:50 into the third elicited a loud celebratory cheer that wasn’t answered by home team supporters.

After a turnover in the Islanders’ end, Patrick Sharp brought the puck from behind the net and tried to jam it in. A scramble in the crease ensued, and Smith poked in his fifth of the season.

Cizikas made a quick impact in the first period when he knocked the puck free from Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell and then beat Bickell to the loose puck at the Chicago blue line. Cizikas corralled the puck, skated in alone on Crawford and scored his fifth of the season with 4:36 left in the period after shifting from backhand to forehand.

Outside of that, the Blackhawks had the better of the play in the opening frame, holding a 12-5 edge in shots and putting pressure on Nabokov.

The Islanders doubled their lead 8:09 into the second when Vanek netted his 14th goal with a backhander in front off a rebound of MacDonald’s shot.

New York took the first penalty of the game when Matt Carkner was sent off for tripping with 2:34 remaining in the second, and Chicago’s potent power play took advantage.

Kris Versteeg sent a crisp, cross-zone pass to the left circle to Seabrook, who ripped a one-timer as he crouched to a knee past Nabokov for his fifth of the season with 1:24 left in the period.

Sharp took the Blackhawks’ first penalty, cross-checking with 24.5 seconds to go in the second. The Islanders started the third with 1:36 left on the advantage but couldn’t convert.

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