Blake Comeau scored a hat trick as the Islanders returned from the Olympic break in winning fashion, defeating the Chicago Blackhawks 5-3 at the Nassau Coliseum.
"It's big for us. They're a good hockey club," Comeau said after the game. "It's a big confidence booster. We knew we had to play a good game right after the break and get on the right way. I thought we did a good job tonight."
A minute and 32 seconds after the Blackhawks took a 1-0 lead, Comeau quickly evened things up for the Islanders with his 10th goal of the year. The Islanders forecheck made the goal happen as Rob Schremp got his stick on a Brent Seabrook clearing attempt. Comeau picked up the lose change around the top of the faceoff circle to the right of Chicago goaltender Antti Niemi and fired a hard wrist shot over the Blackhawks netminders glove hand.
Comeau scored his second of the game just 2:27 into the second period. Mark Streit started things off by working the puck don low to Rob Schremp, who then fed Comeau with a beautiful spinning cross ice pass. Comeau had to initially get himself set to take the shot, but when he did he placed a hard wrister over the glove hand of Niemi to even the score up at 2-2.
As the second period wound down, Comeau completed the hat trick with just 17.3 seconds left in the second period. Mark Streit faked a slapshot to throw the Chicago defense off, and fed a pass in the slot to Comeau. Using a Chicago defenseman as a screen, Comeau let a quick wrist shot go over Christobal Huets blocker side to give the Islanders a 5-2 lead in the waning seconds of the middle frame.
For Comeau, who's scored six goals in his past two games, notching a hat trick was something special.
"It was a great feeling," Comeau said. "It's been a while since I've gotten a hat trick. It was a great pass by Streiter. He had the shot, but he chose to pass. I was excited, and it was good to be able to get the win with it."
Jon Sim and Richard Park would notch the other Islanders goals.
Just 25 seconds after Comeau's second goal, Sim scored his ninth of the year. With Sim in front of the net, Richard Park fired what looked like an innocent wrist shot towards Niemi. However, the puck went off both Sim and a Chicago defenseman and found its way past the Chicago goaltender to give the Islanders a 3-2 lead early in the middle period.
The quick offensive outburst in the second period was enough for Chicago head coach Joel Quennville's eyes, as he pulled Niemi in favor of Huet.
Park continued the Islanders offensive onslaught in the second period, scoring his seventh goal of the year. The play started off as Matt Moulson dumped the puck into the Chicago zone off the half boards. Park followed up on the dump-in by firing a hard slap shot on Huet, surprising the Chicago netminder by giving the Islanders a 4-2 lead.
Brian Campbell, Patrick Kane, and Dustin Byfuglien added goals for Chicago.
Campbell put Chicago on the board first midway through the opening period with his seventh goal of the season. Patrick Kane fired off a high slapshot that Islanders goaltender Dwayne Roloson got his glove on. However, he puck dropped by Roloson's skate and was unaware where the puck was. Campbell was following the play all along, and got a shot behind Roloson from a difficult angle to give the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead.
Just 1:03 after Comeau's first marker, Chicago would get its one-goal lead right back quickly as Kane converted one the power play. With Richard Park in the penalty box for a slashing minor, the Blackhawks powerplay, 8th best in the NHL took to work. Duncan Keith fired a hard slapshot from the Islanders blueline that deflected off the back glass. Kane, who parked himself at the goal line, corralled the puck off the glass and wrapped the puck around the net and just got it across the goal line, beating a sprawling Roloson to give Chicago a 2-1 lead.
Chicago outshot the Islanders 22-9 in the first period, but only lead on the scoreboard 2-1.
"All four (Chicago) lines from top to bottom, all six defensemen are active," Roloson said. "They create a lot of offense, they're all over the place. We weathered the storm in the first and third, and were able to get some goals in the second."
Byfuglien added a late goal for Chicago with 4:17 left in the third period on the power play to cut the Isles lead to two goals, but Roloson would stop 13 more shots in the final frame to preserve the win.
Three Stars of the Game:
1. Blake Comeau, NYI: Hat trick for 10th, 11th and 12th goals of the season. 2. Dwayne Roloson, NYI: 41 saves in a solid performance in net 3. Richard Park, NYI: Goal and assist.
Slapshots: Chicago outshot the Islanders, 44-23...Chicago was 2-3 on the power play, while the Islanders did not receive a power play...The last time an Islanders opponent did not receive a penalty in a game was November 17, 2006 at Tampa Bay...This was the only meeting of the season between both teams, with the Islanders now holding a 39-40-20 all-time record against Chicago...Islanders have now won the last six games against Chicago, dating back to the 2002-03 season.
10 Patrick Sharp - 19 Jonathan Toews - 88 Patrick Kane
82 Tomas Kopecky - 36 Dave Bolland - 81 Marian Hossa
32 Kris Versteeg - 22 Troy Brouwer - 33 Dustin Byfuglien
16 Andrew Ladd - 11 John Madden - 55 Ben Eager
51 Brian Campbell - 4 Niklas Hjalmarsson
7 Brent Seabrook - 2 Duncan Keith
5 Brent Sopel - 8 Kim Johnsson
31 Antti Niemi
39 Christobal Huet
1 - 0 CHI
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 CHI
2 - 2 Tie
3 - 2 NYI
4 - 2 NYI
5 - 2 NYI