Updated at 1:03 a.m., Feb. 22, 2013
MONTREAL (AP) — New York Islanders rookie Thomas Hickey couldn’t have scripted his first NHL goal any better.
The 23-year-old defenseman scored 3:12 into overtime to complete the Islanders’ 4-3 come-from-behind victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night.
“Coming in today, this rink with all that history up in the rafters, I got goose bumps right away,” said Hickey, the No. 4 pick in the 2007 NHL draft by the Los Angeles Kings. “It’s a special place to score in overtime, and to get the win here, I couldn’t be happier.”
John Tavares started the winning play when he dished the puck to a streaking Michael Grabner, who found a pinching and open Hickey to the left of Montreal goalie Carey Price.
Hickey, picked up off waivers by the Islanders during training camp, figured out what to do next.
“I don’t know what I was doing that far into the play, to be honest with you,” Hickey said with a chuckle. “Most guys would have shot that. I don’t know how (Grabner) saw me, but I just had my stick on the ice and just swiped at it.”
That was enough to end the Canadiens’ five-game winning streak.
Matt Moulson scored twice and Frans Nielsen added a goal in the third period for the Islanders (7-9-1), who trailed 2-0 and 3-1 but came back to end a two-game slide and win for the third time in 10 games.
Evgeni Nabokov made 30 saves for the victory.
Max Pacioretty had two goals, and Travis Moen added one for the Canadiens (11-4-2). Price stopped 21 shots.
After going his first 10 games without a goal, Pacioretty has four in three games.
Moen got things going 49 seconds into the game when Colby Armstrong took the puck from Islanders defenseman Andy MacDonald behind the net and fed a pass to Moen for his second of the season.
Pacioretty scored his first of the night on the power play at 11:02 of the first period. David Desharnais, stationed to the left of the crease, moved P.K. Subban’s pass along to Pacioretty at the inner hash marks of the right circle.
The Canadiens outshot the Islanders 14-3 in the opening period, marking the third straight game they have held their opponent below five shots in the first 20 minutes. Montreal also kept opponents below 10 shots in the first period of each game of its winning streak.
The Islanders got one back early in the second on a power play. Moulson deflected Mark Streit’s point shot for his eighth goal of the season 34 seconds into the period.
“We weren’t happy in here and we knew we had to be a lot better,” said Tavares, who had two assists. “It just seemed that as the game went on we started to play better and started to make more happen.
“It’s really been a struggle for us this year, starting off on the wrong foot. But it’s a good way to battle back and know that we can do that. It’s a big win in a tough environment, and they’ve been playing really well.”
New York’s play with the man advantage, which was tops on the road and fourth overall in the NHL heading into Thursday, has been a strength this season.
“Our power play has been there all year for us,” Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. “The first one was a big one to get us on the board. We then just kept getting pucks to the net, and found a way.”
Pacioretty restored Montreal’s two-goal lead eight minutes later after a strong shift by his line. Working with Erik Cole behind the Islanders net, Desharnais found Pacioretty in the low slot at 8:30.
Moulson netted his second of the night — again on the power play — at 16:57 of the second off a feed from Tavares behind the Montreal net.
“We got completely away from our game plan,” Pacioretty said. “They saw an opportunity and they walked all over us. It’s embarrassing to be up like that and get away from our game plan so much.”
Nielsen tied it at 9:51 of the third when he took Josh Bailey’s pass into the high slot and fired it past Price.
“The first half of the game we were in complete control,” Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said. “We seemed to lose our energy that makes us a tough team to play against. We weren’t able to control our penalty kill and they have one of the best power plays in the league.
“That’s what got them back into the game. We ran out of gas in the second half.”
NOTES: The Canadiens allowed more than a goal for the first time since Feb. 12 against Tampa Bay (a 4-3 shootout win). … Montreal defensemen Tomas Kaberle and Yannick Weber were healthy scratches, and rookie winger Brendan Gallagher missed his third straight game with a concussion. … The Islanders, without injured defensemen Matt Carkner and Brian Strait, scratched defenseman Radek Martinek and forwards Eric Boulton and David Ullstrom.
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