ATLANTA – It’s not every day you give up four goals in the third period and still win the game.
The New York Islanders and goalie Yann Danis survived a furious Atlanta rally in the final frame to hold on for a 5-4 victory against the Thrashers on Thursday night, snapping a 14-game winless streak on the road.
Kyle Okposo had his first two-goal game in the NHL for New York, which led 4-0 going into the third period.
In a matchup of two of the league’s three worst teams, the Islanders won consecutive games for the first time since late November, breaking an 0-13-1 road skid.
“I liked the way we’re starting to have periods where we’re dominating,” Islanders coach Scott Gordon said. “The first period we had four straight goals and probably could have had another two or three.”
The Thrashers, losers of three straight, dropped to 9-14-2 at Philips Arena. Only the Islanders’ 19 points at home are fewer than Atlanta’s 20.
Doug Weight’s eighth goal chased Thrashers goalie Kari Lehtonen, who faced just 15 shots, 13:17 into the game.
“Just because we had a good third doesn’t mean anything,” Atlanta centre Rich Peverley said. “We didn’t get a point out of it. You shoot yourself in the foot going down 4-0. I think it was a lack of effort by the whole team.”
With 7:21 remaining, Okposo’s ninth goal, a wrister from the bottom of the right circle, gave New York a 5-3 lead and helped Danis compose himself. It also made a tough-luck loser out of Johan Hedberg, who stopped 17 of 18 shots, but was saddled with the defeat since Okposo’s second goal proved to be the difference.
Josh Bailey, who assisted on Okposo’s goals, sensed the Thrashers deflate after the Islanders regained a two-goal lead.
“It took the wind out of their sails,” Bailey said. “They battled back and made an exciting game of it.”
Ilya Kovalchuk’s 21st goal, a tip-in with 58 seconds remaining, ended the scoring to give Atlanta a four-goal third period to match New York four in the first.
Danis stopped the first 22 shots he faced before Zach Bogosian’s slapshot – the rookie defenceman’s third goal – cut the lead to 4-1 in the first minute of the third.
“We just were not ready,” said Bogosian, the NHL’s No. 3 overall draft pick. “They came out and scored in the first minute. It’s not a good effort on everyone’s part.”
With 13:40 remaining, Peverley made it 4-2 on the power play, using a backhander for his fifth goal. Marty Reasoner’s wraparound made it 4-3 two minutes later. Danis, the Islanders’ third-string goalie with Rick DiPietro (knee) out for the season and Joey MacDonald (groin) sidelined, improved to 2-5-1 with his second straight win.
“I thought he did a really good job during the first two periods,” Gordon said. “We didn’t give a lot of chances. I thought he did a really good (job) controlling rebounds. The third period, obviously, he gave up some goals.”
Entering with an NHL-worst 12 points on the road, the Islanders hadn’t won away from home since taking a shootout against the Canadiens on Nov. 24.
Trent Hunter, who missed two games due to a hand laceration, opened the scoring 55 seconds into the first. His wrist shot produced his 12th and first since a Dec. 4 loss at Washington.
Okposo, who has four goals in three games, made it 2-0. The NHL’s seventh overall draft pick in 2006, Okposo scored on the power play in the previous two games.
He gave much of the credit to Bailey.
“He knew where I was,” Okposo said. “He knows how to find me. He has good vision. He’s easy to play with. Sure, there’s chemistry.”
Notes: Islanders D Mark Streit, who assisted on Hunter’s goal before getting his 29th on Weight’s goal, now has four points in the last three games. … New York, matching a season-high four goals in a period, also scored four during the first of a 5-2 win over St. Louis on Oct. 11. … The Thrashers dropped to 3-1 against the Islanders this season.