Islanders' Kyle Palmieri reacts after scoring the winning goal during...

Islanders' Kyle Palmieri reacts after scoring the winning goal during the overtime period of an NHL hockey game against the Montreal Canadiens, Thursday, April 11, 2024. Credit: AP/Seth Wenig

The Islanders rallied twice to force overtime and were able to battle just enough for their sixth straight win, an incredibly important one in their increasingly hopeful playoff chances.

But their 3-2 victory over the pesky but playing-out-the-string Canadiens on Thursday night at UBS Arena on Kyle Palmieri’s roofed shot at 1:17 of the extra period came with a major concern. Top-pair defenseman Noah Dobson, who has a team-leading 60 assists and quarterbacks the first power-play unit, exited after just three shifts with an upper-body injury.

“We’re down one after one and we’re down a defenseman,” said Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who earned kudos for fighting Brendan Gallagher in the second period after Gallagher was suspended for five games the last time these teams met for his illegal hit to defenseman Adam Pelech’s head.

“A lot of guys stepped up. Those games are sometimes hard to win. We kept the same mindset. We always believed that we were going to come back and if we won, it would feel good. And it does feel good.”

Semyon Varlamov only had to make 12 saves as he started for the seventh time in 10 games. Sam Montembeault stopped 28 shots for the Canadiens (30-36-13).

The Islanders (37-27-15) solidified their hold on third place in the Metropolitan Division, staying three points ahead of the Penguins, who beat the Red Wings 6-5 in overtime, and moving four points ahead of the Capitals after they lost 4-2 in Buffalo. All three have three games remaining.

The Islanders next face the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Saturday afternoon and it’s unclear whether Dobson will be available.

“He’s extremely important to this team,” Pelech said. “He plays a ton of minutes, all situations. He’s having a great year for us. It was tough to lose him so early. The other five defensemen and the whole team really did a good job of picking up the slack that was left behind.”

Dobson’s absence was noticeable on the 0-for-4 power play against the Canadiens. He logged just 1:28 and left at 5:33 of the first period.

“We battled,” Palmieri said. “We didn’t have a bad first five minutes and then the game settled in and we didn’t really do what we had to. We built our game and just stayed with it and just found a way.”

Cole Caulfield gave the Canadiens a 2-1 lead at 3:42 of the third period, banking in a close-range shot off Varlamov’s inside pad. But Casey Cizikas’ backhanded wraparound knotted it at 6:30.

“There’s a lot at stake in what we’re trying to achieve in making the playoffs,” Cizikas said. “You can see the way the guys are playing. You can see the way our guys are buying in and doing what they need to do out there.”

Pierre Engvall, aggressive and skating well all game, tied it at 1-1 on a rising wrist shot from the slot at 5:17 of the first period. Montembeault then denied his breakaway at 15:50 of the second period.

Canadiens defenseman Jordan Harris, shooting through traffic from above the right circle, had made it 1-0 at 17:58 of the first period.

Pageau checked Gallagher hard into the wall, then challenged him at 10:15 of the second period.

“A good teammate,” said Pelech, who missed one game after Gallagher’s hit on Jan. 25 but returned after the All-Star break.

Notes & quotes: Coach Patrick Roy said goalie Ilya Sorokin would start against the Rangers…Defenseman Sebastian Aho was inserted for Robert Bortuzzo and logged 22:48…Engvall matched his career high with six shots…Forwards Hudson Fasching and Oliver Wahlstrom and defenseman Samuel Bolduc remained healthy scratches.

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