First-time NHL goal scorer lifts Islanders in OT

Sean Farrell, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange


MONTREAL -- John Tavares showed some of his magic to help set up Thomas Hickey's timely first NHL goal for the New York Islanders.
Hickey scored 3:12 into overtime and the Islanders ended Montreal's five-game winning streak with a 4-3 victory over the Canadiens on Thursday night.
The 24-year-old defenseman pinched in to put away Michael Grabner's patient pass on a play that began with Tavares, who got his second assist of the game.
"John Tavares made an amazing play from his back to get the puck to Grabner, and most guys would have shot that," said Hickey, who played in his 10th game. "I don't know how he saw me, but I had my stick on the ice and just swiped at it. Some luck involved there."
Matt Moulson scored two power-play goals in the second period for the Islanders. Montreal outshot New York 15-3 in the first period.
"We weren't happy in here and we knew we had to be a lot better," Tavares said. "It just seemed as the game went on we started to play better and we started to make more happen. But in saying that, going forward we have to be a lot better early in games."
Frans Nielsen drew New York even 9:51 into the third period, snapping a shot past Carey Price from the slot for his second goal of the season to make it 3-3.
Evgeni Nabokov stopped 30 shots for New York.
The Islanders, who had lost two in a row, won for only the third time in 10 games in February.
"It's really been a struggle for us this year, starting off on the wrong foot," Tavares said. "We've got to be ready at the drop of the puck, but it was a good way to battle back and know that we can do that. From time to time, you're going to have to, so big win, tough environment. They've been playing really well so we needed the two points."
Max Pacioretty had two goals and Travis Moen also scored for Montreal. Price made 21 saves.
"We got completely away from our game plan and they saw an opportunity and walked all over us," Pacioretty said "And it's embarrassing to be up like that and get away from our game plan so much."
David Desharnais assisted on both goals by Pacioretty, who has scored four times in three games since failing to score in his first 10 games of the season.
Moen put the Canadiens up 1-0 with his second goal 49 seconds into the game. That came just after Price stopped Tavares' shot 30 seconds in as the Islanders' scoring leader drove in alone after taking a setup pass from Mark Streit.
Pacioretty made it 2-0 with his third goal on a power play at 11:02.
Moulson tipped Streit's point shot past Price 34 seconds into the second to draw the Islanders within 2-1.
Pacioretty restored the Canadiens' two-goal margin with his second of the game -- his fourth of the season -- at 8:30.
New York drew within one once again at 16:57 when Moulson converted the Islanders' second straight power-play opportunity.
Pacioretty had an opportunity for a hat trick during four-on-four play with just over seven minutes left in the third period. The Montreal left winger took Desharnais' setup pass but slid the puck into a sprawled Nabokov with an open side in front of him.
"It's a shame we left Carey out to dry like that," Pacioretty said. "Everyone's got to look in the mirror and say that they've got to step up."
NOTES: The Islanders' power play unit entered the game with a 23.9 percent success rate, converting 16 of 67 opportunities overall. New York had scored seven times in 23 chances for a 30.4 success rate on the road. ... The teams play two more times this season, with the Islanders hosting both remaining games on Long Island. ... Canadiens right winger Brendan Gallagher practiced Thursday morning, though he was not cleared to return. It was the first time the 20-year-old rookie skated with his teammates since he suffered a concussion on a hit by Philadelphia's Luke Schenn on Saturday. Gallagher, who had a goal and an assist in Montreal's 4-1 win over the Flyers, has five goals and three assists in 13 games.