Josh Bailey scored the overtime winner with 17.8 seconds to play, as the New York Islanders completed a 2-1 comeback win over the Calgary Flames on Thursday night at Scotiabank Saddledome.
Bailey’s heroics would not have been possible if not for a late third-period goal from hometown boy Thomas Hickey, who sent the game to overtime, and a 31-save performance from Jaroslav Halak. With the win, the Islanders improved to 3-0 on their current road trip and 7-1-1 in their last nine games.
“It was a really important two points,” Hickey said. “For me it was the cherry on top to get one to go in there. It was just a fun atmosphere. It’s a wave of emotion to be able to come back.”
With 10 minutes to play in the third period, the Islanders were staring down the barrel of a frustrating shutout. Then, Matt Martin corralled the puck at the half wall in the Flames’ zone, fed a streaking Hickey and the Islanders’ defenseman backhanded his third of the season past Joni Ortio.
“Marty made a really nice play curling up, a patient play,” Hickey said. “My first thought was to shoot. Sometimes you’re better off just throwing it on net rather than trying to pick the corner and it just trickled its way through there.”
With seconds remaining in the sudden-death frame, John Tavares pulled a nifty move on Johnny Gaudreau at the wall, then found Bailey with a backdoor feed. Bailey made no mistake, roofing it past Ortio for the win.
“I got a step on Gaudreau,” Tavares said. “Bailey did a great job of getting it up in the top of the net. It’s nice to win after maybe not one of our best games, but we dug deep and found a way.”
Halak was the Islanders best player for the first 50 minutes of the game, keeping his team within striking distance as they found their legs against the hungry Flames. He was beat by Jiri Hudler at 4:16 of the first period, but stood tall the rest of the way, even robbing Hudler with a post-to-post pad save in the third period.
“It was a pretty tight game and Jaro made some big saves,” Tavares said. “He kept us in it and gave us a chance.”
Thursday was Halak’s third straight win. He’s allowed only two goals over those three games.
“This is how a lot of these games go down the stretch,” Bailey said. “They are battles to the bitter end. You want to find a way to come out on top and I’m glad we did.”
The Islanders continue the Western Canadian portion of their road trip on Sunday night in Edmonton. Puck drop is at 9:30 p.m. eastern time.