UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The New York Islanders play the Pittsburgh Penguins only once more this season and will not face the Nashville Predators again until next season. So right winger Kyle Okposo will have to take satisfaction in trying to prove from afar that Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma and Predators general manager David Poile -- the head coach and general manager of the U.S. Olympic hockey team -- made a mistake in leaving him off the American squad.
He got off to a splendid start in that regard Thursday night, when Okposo scored the game-winning goal 58 seconds into overtime to lift the Islanders to a 3-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks at Nassau Coliseum.
Okposo was left off the team -- and, according to an ESPN.com report, was not even seriously considered for the squad -- despite ranking second among all American-born players with 42 points. His goal Thursday gave him 16 points (eight goals and eight assists) in the Islanders' last 11 games.
"I think sometimes you get tough bounces in life and you don't always achieve your goals," Okposo said. "I felt like I left everything out there, so I don't have anything to hang my head about."
Added Islanders head coach Jack Capuano: "Obviously it's a tough day for him. I think we were all a little bit surprised when the team came out."
Okposo said he was not feeling particularly "jacked up" to prove anyone wrong Thursday and claimed he did not derive any extra satisfaction from scoring the game-winner. However, teammates and coaches were ecstatic to see him deliver what they believed to be a statement goal.
Okposo was trailing the play when center John Tavares' shot bounced off Canadiens goaltender Corey Crawford and to Okposo, who fired a sizzling shot over the shoulder of Crawford.
Okposo celebrated the goal by pumping his right arm into the air and slamming his fists emphatically into the plastic along the boards.
"I don't know if he thought David Poile's head was in the net and he was aiming for it, but I think he sent a message with that one," Tavares said.
The fans in the announced crowd of 13,618 that braved an oncoming blizzard on Long Island felt the same way. Less than two minutes after Okposo's goal, chants of "U-S-A!" began raining down on the ice.
"That was pretty special," Okposo said. "Certainly got chills out there. To hear the fans chant like that, definitely pretty special."
Okposo's dramatic goal punctuated an impressive effort by the Islanders, who have won a season-high three in a row and have beaten last year's Stanley Cup finalists in their last two games. The Islanders (14-21-7) beat Boston, 5-3, on Tuesday.
Center Casey Cizikas and left winger Thomas Vanek also scored for the Islanders, who took a 2-0 lead before the Blackhawks tied it with a pair of goals in a 3:04 span bridging the second and third periods. The Islanders have blown six two-goal leads this season at Nassau Coliseum, where they had lost eight in a row (0-4-4) heading into Thursday night.
The Islanders had several chances to retake the lead in the third, including a point-blank miss by Tavares early in the period and a sequence of shots by Okposo, right winger Michael Grabner and center Frans Nielsen in the final two minutes.
"With all the chances we had, you kind of felt hopefully that we didn't let this one slip away," Tavares said. "It's very fitting Kyle was able to get that one."
Goaltender Evgeni Nabokov made 37 saves for the Islanders.
Defenseman Brent Seabrook and right winger Ben Smith scored for the Blackhawks (29-7-8), who are 5-0-3 in their last eight games. With the point gained from the overtime loss, Chicago broke a tie with Anaheim for the overall NHL lead in points.
Crawford, who was playing for the first time since suffering a lower body injury on Dec. 8, had 31 saves.
"I thought we worked but we didn't work smart tonight," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "But a positive out of the game was Corey's play. Got us a point and made some real key stops particularly late in the game."
NOTES: Only two Islanders home games were postponed due to the weather. Blizzards forced postponements on Feb. 7, 1978, and March 13, 1993. ... Before Thursday, the Islanders went 0-3-1 in their previous four home games against the reigning Stanley Cup champion dating back to a win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Nov. 27, 2009. ... Islanders C Josh Bailey participated in the morning skate but missed his third consecutive game due to an upper-body injury. ... The only other scratch for the Islanders was LW Eric Boulton. ... The Blackhawks are carrying three goalies until they return home Sunday. Antti Raanta, who took over when G Corey Crawford got hurt Dec. 8 and went 8-1-2 in Crawford's absence, was the backup Thursday. Jason LaBarbera was a scratch. ... The Blackhawks also scratched D Sheldon Brookbank and D Michal Rozsival. ... Chicago visits the New Jersey Devils on Friday to complete the Blackhawks' 11th set of back-to-back games this year -- but only the second played entirely on the road. ... The Islanders host the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday.