Jason Blake epitomized hard work during his five-plus years with the New York Islanders.
Blake returned to Long Island for the first time Wednesday night after leaving as a free agent in the summer. The Islanders spoiled his return with a 4-3 overtime victory over Toronto.
He was given a brief video tribute just before the opening faceoff and was greeted with mostly cheers from the fans who appreciated his efforts. The gritty forward left as a free agent in the summer after scoring a career-best 40 goals.
The video board thanked him for his hustle, and the Islanders beat him with a dose of it in the nick of time.
"Obviously coming back, it was good," Blake said. "You wanted to win the hockey game and get it done."
The Islanders won the game, but lost starting goalie Rick DiPietro to a knee injury. He won't make the trip to Ottawa for Thursday night's game against the Senators.
"He felt good enough in warmup and wanted to give it a try," Islanders coach Ted Nolan said. "He'll take an MRI and see what the damage is. We give him full marks for giving it a try."
In other NHL games Wednesday night, it was: Ottawa 5, Buffalo 3, the New York Rangers 4, Carolina 2; Washington 3, Tampa Bay 2; Columbus 2, Atlanta 0; Chicago 5, Nashville 2; Detroit 5, St. Louis 0; Dallas 8, Minnesota 3; and San Jose 3, Los Angeles 2.
Mike Comrie scored with 9.6 seconds showing on the overtime clock on a rush after backup goalie Wade Dubielewicz stoned the Maple Leafs at the other end. Blake had a chance, but Richard Park knocked the puck away.
"We only got so many seconds left in overtime, I was trying to make a play," Blake said. "Parkie made a great play by poke-checking it."
Comrie, who also scored in New York's three-goal first period, got to a rebound of Park's shot and put it past backup Andrew Raycroft shortly after a Maple Leafs power play expired.
Raycroft hadn't played since Nov. 24 when he was pulled in the first period of a loss to Phoenix.
"I was hoping to at least get to a shootout," he said. "All I've done the last month and a half is shootouts. I wanted to see if some of that work was going to pay off."
Andy Hilbert and Bill Guerin also scored in an unusually productive first period for the Islanders to stake DiPietro to a lead. But a knee injury sustained in pregame warmups forced him out early.
At Buffalo, N.Y., Dany Heatley had a goal and two assists, Martin Gerber made 29 saves and Ottawa won for the eighth time in 10 games.
Jochen Hecht, Brian Campbell and Adam Mair scored for Buffalo, which had its season-high six-game winning streak snapped while losing for just the fifth time in the past 18 games.
At St. Louis, Chris Osgood stopped 20 shots for his 45th career shutout, leading Detroit to its fifth win in six games.
Center Valtteri Filppula scored twice to pace the Red Wings, who improved to 27-7-3 overall.
At Dallas, Brenden Morrow had two goals, Mike Ribeiro matched a career high with his 20th goal and added two assists, and Dallas routed Minnesota.
Mike Modano, Niklas Hagman, Stu Barnes, Jeff Halpern, and Loui Eriksson also scored for the Stars, 7-1 in their past eight games.
At Washington, Matt Bradley scored the tiebreaking goal with 2:53 left, and the Capitals ended a three-game skid by beating Tampa Bay.
Vincent Lecavalier scored both Tampa Bay goals. The Lightning have lost five of six and are an NHL-worst 3-13-1 on the road.
At Chicago, Robert Lang scored two goals in the third period and the Blackhawks won their season-high fourth straight.
Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane each had a goal and assist for the Blackhawks.
At New York, Jaromir Jagr scored twice to end a goal-scoring slump and Brendan Shanahan set up a pair of third-period power-play goals to help New York beat Carolina.
Chris Drury and Dan Girardi also scored for the Rangers, who snapped a three-game losing streak, winning for only the third time in the past 11 games.
At Columbus, Ohio, Pascal Leclaire made 21 saves for his league-leading seventh shutout and Columbus snapped Atlanta's four-game winning streak.
With Rick Nash out nursing a sore throat, Dan Fritsche and Jared Boll picked up the scoring for Columbus, which entered having tallied only four goals in the past four games, three of them losses.
At Los Angeles, Milan Michalek scored two goals and San Jose set a club record with its seventh consecutive road victory, handing the Kings their eighth straight loss overall.
Joe Pavelski also scored and Evgeni Nabokov stopped 29 shots as the Sharks began a four-game road trip. The previous club mark for consecutive road wins was Nov. 30-Dec. 19, 2001.