Okposo breaks tie with 1st NHL goal

March 21, 2008 7:06:47 PM PDT
Kyle Okposo snapped a tie with 2:35 remaining by scoring his first NHL goal, and the New York Islanders ended a six-game losing streak with a 3-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Friday night.Okposo, who made his NHL debut Tuesday in New York's home loss to Toronto, scored shortly after having his helmet knocked to the ice. He took a pass in the right circle from Richard Park and snapped a drive past Martin Brodeur.

Trent Hunter added an empty-net goal with 18.8 seconds left to give the Islanders a 3-1 lead and drop the Devils into a flat-footed tie with Pittsburgh atop the Atlantic Division. Both teams are 42-25-7 with eight games remaining and lead the New York Rangers by three points.

New Jersey had a chance to jump over Montreal for first in the Eastern Conference, but still trails the Canadiens by one point.

The Islanders, playing without No. 1 goalie Rick DiPietro who had season-ending hip surgery this week, took a 1-0 lead less than 5 minutes into the game.

Blake Comeau brought the puck behind the net, reversed his path, came back in front and fired a shot that eluded Brodeur, who was screened in front by Park.

The Devils tied it with a power-play goal with 6 minutes remaining in the first period. Just 16 seconds after Steve Regier went off for hooking Travis Zajac, the second-year center scored his 14th goal off a rebound.

Wade Dubielewicz, subbing for DiPietro, stopped Brian Gionta's initial shot, but Zajac stuffed the puck in at 13:46.

The Devils thought they scored the go-ahead goal in the second period, also during a power play, when Sergei Brylin put a backhander past Dubielewicz off a mad scramble in front. The goal was waved off after a video review showed that the net became dislodged before the puck went in.

Brodeur left the ice midway through the second period for nearly two minutes because of an undisclosed reason, but then replaced Kevin Weekes before the backup goalie was forced to make a save.

Brodeur returned to a standing ovation with 7:24 remaining in the period.

The Devils totally dominated play early, outshooting the Islanders 14-5 in the first period and holding a 25-11 advantage through 40 minutes. New Jersey finished with a 35-16 edge, but fell to 0-1-1 this week against New York's Rangers and Islanders.