Oilers center Connor McDavid skates away as Islanders teammates celebrate with Kyle Okposo during one of his goals.
The Islanders at least provided their fans with a tasty Super Bowl appetizer — and a good reason to head home early — on Sunday.
After briefly falling out of playoff position with a blowout loss in Detroit the previous day, the Isles rebounded back into the top eight in the Eastern Conference with their highest-scoring game of the season, an 8-1 afternoon dismantling of Edmonton before 14,030 at Barclays Center.
“To me, 8-1, 8-7 or 2-1, we just needed points,” coach Jack Capuano said. “The guys haven’t been getting the results they deserve the last couple of weeks. But tonight we did a lot of good things and fortunately we come out of here with two points.
“It’s a big two points when you look at our division. It seems like everyone wins every day.”
The Isles (27-18-6) had slipped into ninth place in the East following Saturday’s 5-1 loss in Detroit, but on Sunday they moved back ahead of the Devils and Pittsburgh into third place in the Metropolitan Division.
Kyle Okposo recorded his second career hat trick and Thomas Greiss made 30 saves in his first start in goal since Jan. 12. Meanwhile, the Isles scored their most goals in one game since a 9-3 brawl-filled victory over Pittsburgh on Feb. 11, 2011.
“It felt good to put up eight there,” Okposo said. “We were going on all cylinders after struggling a little to score.”
Cal Clutterbuck celebrates his goal at 16:04 in the second period.
Early goals by Johnny Boychuk, Nikolay Kulemin and surging captain John Tavares chased former Isles goalie Anders Nilsson by 11:24 of the first period, with Tavares notching his fourth (4-5-9) in six games.
“Johnny tries to carry a team on his back. He’s the guy that goes for us and when he’s going, we’re going,” Capuano said. “It’s starting to come for him now. I don’t worry about (No.) 91.”
Okposo added two goals in the second period against former Rangers backup Cam Talbot as the Isles improved to 9-10-1 over 20 games since their 8-0-2 run through mid-December.
“I’m not in panic mode by any means,” Capuano said before the game. “I think guys look at (the standings). They know where we stand.”
In adddition to Okposo’s two goals, Josh Bailey and Cal Clutterbuck also scored for the Isles in the second as they reached six goals for the fourth time this season.
Okposo, who had a four-goal game against the Penguins last season, notched his third and completed a four-point game with a power-play score past Talbot 7:27 into the third.
“You score eight goals, there’s no complaints,” Tavares said. “But the two points were the most important thing. … We play in a really good division and don’t take anything for granted. You could sense in the room that we needed a big win.”
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