There was nothing pretty about the Islanders game Tuesday night. Except the result.
After a slog through regulation against the Senators, during which the Islanders lost two more players to injury, Thomas Hickey drove around the Ottawa net and banked a backhand off Senators defenseman Cody Ceci's skate and into the net at 3:06 of overtime.
That was a fitting end. The 3-2 OT victory extended many more streaks in this wondrous season. It was the Islanders' seventh straight win at home, their eighth win in eight games that have gone beyond regulation and Jaroslav Halak's franchise record-tying 10th straight win in goal, where he faced only 18 shots.
This win also kept the Islanders going in the right direction when they weren't at their best or at full strength. Travis Hamonic suffered an upper-body injury in the third period on a hard hit from Chris Neil, tried to play through it but left down the stretch. Cal Clutterbuck left around the same time with a lower-body injury.
"Already missing two guys on D [Lubomir Visnovsky and Johnny Boychuk], it's definitely going to make it tougher on us," said Hickey, who also was deep in the Senators zone during a four-on-four stretch early in the third when his shot squeaked through Craig Anderson's pads and right to Ryan Strome for a 2-1 Isles lead.
"We're used to it, unfortunately," Hickey said of playing down a defenseman. "It's not something you want to get used to. But everyone is chipping in."
Brian Strait and Matt Donovan, who played again in place of Visnovsky and Boychuk, each had assists, with Donovan's coming on Hickey's game-winner. Jack Capuano mixed and matched his remaining 11 forwards and five defensemen when Hamonic came back from the locker room initially. He was a step slow to tie up Clarke MacArthur, however, when Mark Stone sent a pass in front that MacArthur converted into a goal with 8:46 left to tie the score at 2.
The Senators, who were more concerned through much of the game with defending shooting lanes than generating offense, started to press the attack against the shorthanded Islanders in the final minutes of regulation.
"We just came off a long stretch of games, six in nine nights. This almost felt like coming back from a long road trip," Hickey said. "There were definitely a few lulls."
A big one came in the opening 10 minutes of the game, when the Senators used their size to pin the Islanders into their own zone. Mike Hoffman opened the scoring with a 35-foot slap shot past Halak at 10:04 of the first.
But the Islanders picked up their game in the second and got a break when Kyle Okposo's toss through center ice hopped past Ceci and settled for Brock Nelson, who beat Anderson for his team-high 11th goal and a tie game at 18:26 of the middle period.
Once in OT, the Islanders regained their footing. Hickey took advantage of soft coverage by Kyle Turris and used Mikhail Grabovski as a good decoy in front to provide the pinballed winner.
"It's the sign of a good team when you don't play your best but you still only give up 18 shots and come away with two points," Okposo said. "I'll take that any day."