Corey Crawford returned to the net for the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night, and was spectacular in the final 40 minutes of regulation. But Kyle Okposo beat him in overtime to pick up the second point for the Islanders.
The Islanders opened the scoring when Bryan Bickell turned the puck over and Casey Cizikas was unchallenged as he attacked the net. Johnny Oduya made the pass to Bickell and immediately went off for a change, leaving nothing between Cizikas and Crawford but open ice.
Just over eight minutes into the second period, Thomas Vanek deposited a rebound to put the Islanders up 2-0. However, Brent Seabrook sent a missile past Evgeni Nabokov with 84 seconds left in the second period to bring the Blackhawks back to within one. The power play goal was Seabrook’s fifth of the season.
A late second period cross checking penalty on Patrick Sharp forced the Hawks to skate 1:35 to open the third period short-handed. Chicago came out of the dressing room with momentum from Seabrook’s goal and not only handled the penalty kill, but created a couple good scoring chances immediately following the kill. Ben Smith tied the game less than two minutes into the third, his fifth goal of the year.
The game stayed tied through the rest of regulation, but Okposo registered his second point of the night when he was left alone by Patrick Sharp and made good on a feed from John Tavares. Tavares had a glorious chance to put the Islanders up in the third period with a wide open net, but shot the puck under Crawford.
In his return to the night, Crawford was good. He stopped 27 of 28 New York shots in the second and third periods and made 31 saves on the night. Unfortunately, he did not get the victory. On the other end of the rink, Nabokov made 37 saves to earn the second point for the home Islanders.
Jonathan Toews had one assist, a team-high five shots on net and won 11 of 21 faceoffs to lead the Hawks. Marian Hossa, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Duncan Keith each had three blocked shots in the game; the Hawks blocked 14 as a team in the game. Only three Blackhawks were credited with a single hit on the night.