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updated: 1/2/2014 11:10 PM

Was Olympic snub behind Isles' win over Hawks?

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  • The Islanders' Kyle Okposo shoots the puck past Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford as Patrick Sharp watches in overtime Thursday night. It was Crawford's first start since missing 10 games with a groin injury.

      The Islanders' Kyle Okposo shoots the puck past Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford as Patrick Sharp watches in overtime Thursday night. It was Crawford's first start since missing 10 games with a groin injury.
    Associated Press

 
 

It was a tough two days for the Islanders' Kyle Okposo.

On Wednesday he was snubbed by the United States Olympic team despite trailing only Patrick Kane in points by an American-born player this season.

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Then Thursday he was robbed time after time by Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford.

But in the end Okposo had the last laugh by scoring the winning goal 58 seconds into overtime as the New York Islanders beat the Hawks 3-2 at Nassau Coliseum.

Okposo picked up a loose puck in the right circle and fired it over Crawford, who was terrific in his first game back after missing 10 with a groin injury.

The crowd chanted "USA, USA" after Okposo scored while he was being interviewed on the ice.

"You're giving me chills right now," he said during the interview. "Sometimes you get tough bounces in life. You don't always achieve your goals. Tonight I thought I left everything out there."

"He was probably a little disappointed," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said of the Olympic snub. "He is just excited that we won the game."

If it wasn't Okposo that Crawford was frustrating it was John Taveras, who had at least three Grade A chances in the third period.

"I thought we worked, but we didn't work smart tonight," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville told reporters. "The positive out of the game was Corey's play. I thought he got us a point and made some real key stops, particularly late in the game.

"I thought we had some good looks in the first two periods, but in the third period it was Crow who really saved us."

The Hawks rallied from a 2-0 deficit to get the game to overtime on a power-play goal by Brent Seabrook in the second period and a goal by Ben Smith early in the third.

"Coming back down 2-0 on the road, they played well," Quenneville said of the Islanders. "You've got to give them some credit, the way they played and attacked. They've got some quickness and speed. It was nice to get it to overtime, but it didn't last very long."

The Islanders took a 2-0 lead on goals by Casey Cizikas and Thomas Vanek.

Cizikas took advantage of a turnover by Bryan Bickell and a bad line change by Hawks defensemen Johnny Oduya and Niklas Hjalmarsson to make it 1-0 in the first period. Vanek scored in the second.

Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov made 37 saves in the victory.

It was the first game for Brandon Saad since being left off the U.S. Olympic team with Okposo despite his 14 goals.

"I think he's one of those guys that was probably on the bubble," Quenneville said of Saad following Thursday's morning skate. "I'm sure he got consideration right to the end.

"He's still a young guy and I think in the future he'll get a chance to play there and be on that team. In the meantime, just keep doing what you've been doing."

Saad was disappointed not to make the cut.

"It's a tough team to make, but it was out of my control," Saad told reporters. "I had a good first half, and I'm just putting it aside. Obviously, I wanted to make it this time around, but I'm still young (21) and hopefully I'll have more opportunities."

There were reports Saad was one of the final cuts.

"It doesn't matter if you're the last cut or an early-on cut," he said. "Either way, it's the same result: You didn't make the team. Hopefully next time."

Saad still could be added to the team if there is an injury.

tsassone@dailyherald.com

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