"Anybody that's been around the Islanders will tell you that Kyle Okposo has had some great opportunities and been unable to score," Islanders coach Scott Gordon said. "There isn't a guy that's more deserving than he was, to be able to get that opportunity and have it be a game-winner."
The goal was Okposo's seventh of the season, but just his second in nearly two months.
"It's been awhile," said Okposo, left off the U.S. Olympic team. "I've had some tough luck finding the net. That made this one so much better."
Some misfortune figured in the play, but it was felt only by Colorado. The odd-man rush was set up when Avalanche defenseman Kyle Cumiskey slipped and fell at the blue line. Okposo skated unchallenged down the right side before knocking the puck in, driving it into the net over goalie Craig Anderson's left shoulder.
"They had the numbers in their favor," Anderson said. "We had some bad luck to set it up and I had no chance. I read the shot all the way. It caught a piece of jersey and it rolled off my shoulder into the net."
The Avalanche pulled Anderson for an extra attacker with just over a minute remaining, but Islanders goalie Dwayne Roloson turned away the two best chances.
Colorado's Matt Hendricks tied it at 2 with 10:23 left in the final period. Brandon Yip set it up with a pass that Hendricks knocked through as he rushed the net.
Rob Schremp took an unusual tact to give New York a 2-1 lead, swinging his stick like a baseball bat and connecting to drive the puck into the net over Anderson.
"That was Robbie at his finest. He is a magician," Okposo said.
Said Schremp, "I would never have gotten it off had I let it drop to the ice. I just whacked at it."
The power-play score was just the second allowed by the Avs in the last seven games. Colorado had killed 14 of its previous 15 short-handed situations coming into the game in that span.
Frans Nielsen began the sequence, taking a shot that caromed off the top of the net. The rebound came out to Schremp, who knocked it down and then put the puck back in for the score with a waist-high swing of his stick.
Officials reviewed the play before determining the goal was valid.
Colorado opened the scoring less than 3 minutes into the game on a power-play goal by Chris Stewart, his 13th of the season. John-Michael Liles took a shot from the slot that Roloson stopped but could not control, and Stewart, positioned in front of the net, pushed the loose puck past the goalie.
The Islanders evened the score for the first time shortly before the first intermission on a goal by Jon Sim, who was playing in his 400th career game. Sim, scoring his second goal in two games, knocked in a rebound.
The game was billed in advance as a matchup between two of the most promising players to come out of the 2009 draft class, but neither the Islanders' John Tavares, who was the top overall selection, nor the Avalanche's Matt Duchene, the third overall selection, figured prominently in the outcome. ... Colorado's loss was only the third in 12 games this season against Eastern Conference teams.
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DENVER - JANUARY 6: John Tavares #91 of the New York Islanders skates prior to the game against the Colorado...