Hickey’s OT goal lifts Islanders past Flames
NEW YORK — For the New York Islanders, squeaking out a flawed victory sure beats suffering yet another well-played defeat.
Defenseman Thomas Hickey scored 1:53 into overtime Monday night as the skidding Islanders at least momentarily righted themselves with a 2-1 victory over the Calgary Flames at Barclays Center.
The win was just the third in the last 11 games for the Islanders (7-10-4), who began the day with the fewest points in the NHL but who, by virtue of the win, moved into a tie with the Arizona Coyotes for 29th place.
New York’s 3-4-4 stretch has “featured” five losses — including back-to-back defeats against the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks in the two games prior to Monday — in which it gave up the tying or go-ahead goal in the final four minutes of the third period.
“I’m just glad the guys come away with two points, because they’ve worked extremely hard over the last nine periods of hockey — 12, counting tonight,” Islanders head coach Jack Capuano said.
It appeared as if the Islanders might get a rare easy victory during a first period in which they took the lead on John Tavares’ goal at the 7:28 mark and ended up outshooting the tired-looking Flames — who fell to the Philadelphia Flyers 5-3 on Sunday and were finishing a six-game Eastern Conference road trip Monday — by a 9-4 margin.
But the Flames outshot the Islanders 22-16 over the final two periods and finally tied the game on Sean Monahan’s goal 5:51 into the third.
“Certainly, we’d love to come away with more (goals) — just not always the case, so you’ve got to find a way to keep generating momentum, keep generating chances.” Tavares said. “Kind of a sluggish second period I think for both sides and then they were able to generate some momentum in the third. We were able to get little bit going towards the end to get to overtime.”
Islanders defenseman Nick Leddy had the most serious scoring threat in the waning minutes of regulation, but his shot bounced off the upper body of Flames goalie Brian Elliott, who smothered the puck with 65 seconds remaining.
The Islanders dominated the overtime, during which the Flames didn’t get a shot on net. Elliott turned away a breakaway by Jason Chimera a little more than a minute into the extra session.
With the puck still in the Flames’ zone, Tavares jumped on to the ice during a shift change and briefly appeared to have a breakaway opportunity of his own before Calgary defenseman TJ Brodie swooped in front of Tavares.
The Islanders’ captain spun around while Flames right winger Troy Brouwer descended upon Tavares and center Mikael Backlund raced towards the net. But there was no defense Tavares’ backhanded shot, which ticked off the stick of Hickey, who was stationed in front of the net, and under Elliott’s legs.
“As Johnny goes, we go, right?” Capuano said of Tavares, who leads the team with six goals and 11 assists. “It doesn’t surprise me, some of the plays that he makes. You definitely want the puck in his hands when the game’s on the line.”
Thomas Greiss made 25 saves for the Islanders.
Elliott also notched 25 saves for the Flames (10-13-2), who went 3-2-1 on their road trip.
“Disappointing at the end, I think that’s what we all feel,” Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan said. “But good to get the point and come out 3-2-1 on the road.”
The Flames are three points out of third place in the Pacific Division and two points behind in the race for the final Western Conference wild-card spot — the exact same positions they were in at the start of the road trip.
“We didn’t take ourselves out of it by any means with this trip,” defenseman Mark Giordano said of the Flames, who have a league-low three wins at home but will play seven of their next 11 games in Calgary. “We’ve got to get some big wins at home. We haven’t been good enough at home.”
NOTES: The Islanders scratched G Jaroslav Halak, D Scott Mayfield and C Ryan Strome. It was the second straight healthy scratch for Strome, who has been in and out of coach Jack Capuano’s doghouse the last two seasons. “I’ve either got to play better or find a way to make them more happy, I guess,” Strome told Newsday after the morning skate. ... Islanders D Adam Pelech left after the second period due to an upper-body injury. ... Calgary scratched C Freddie Hamilton, RW Garnet Hathaway and D Brett Kulak. ... Flames C Mark Jankowski made his NHL debut and played 10:18 three days after being recalled from Stockton of the AHL.