NEW YORK—Colorado Avalanche forward Blake Comeau is starting to heat up for his club, and that’s just what it needs. The 29-year-old wing has five points (three goals, two assists) in his last five games, which includes scoring the opening goal of the night in back-to-back contests.
Comeau picked up his fourth marker of the season when his backhander went up and over New York Islanders netminder Thomas Greiss and then was batted into the net by the end of the goalie’s stick just over halfway through the first period in Monday’s 5-3 loss.
Sure, Comeau had some help on the tally, but that’s hockey. Bounces go both ways, and that one went in favor of the Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan, native.
“I thought we had some good chances,” Comeau said after the game. “I felt like we fell off a little bit in the third, which is a little disappointing, but it just sucks we couldn’t get the two points.”
Comeau’s line of Carl Soderberg and Cody McLeod was one of two trios to cover Colorado’s scoring in Brooklyn. The other was Mikhail Grigorenko, Andreas Martinsen and Jarome Iginla‚ with the latter scoring his 597th career goal in the middle frame.
“That was a nice goal. That was a nice shot he had there, and he had a few good looks,” Avs head coach Patrick Roy said of the 38-year-old Iginla. “That line played really well. I thought Grigorenko and Iginla, they had a strong game. I thought it was a line that was capable of doing good things against these guys.”
That kind of secondary production, where points come from all areas, is exactly the kind of thing that will bring the Avalanche success in the long run, and it’s starting to come together for the team.
“The last few games, we’ve had every line scoring goals. For a better part of the season, [Nathan] MacKinnon’s line’s been doing the majority of it,” Comeau said. “We can’t count on just one line to carry us every night. If we want to be successful, we’ve got to have second and third line scoring. The fourth line has been playing good as well. We’ve got to continue to have that.”
Yes, MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Matt Duchene lead the team in scoring and yes, they’ve been hot as of late. They can only do so much though, and that is where everyone else comes in.
“Those guys did a great job,” Duchene said of Comeau and company. “We needed to do our job tonight. We worked hard and had some good chances, especially early in the first period. Just weren’t able to find a goal when we needed it. I think, obviously, [Greiss] made a great save on me on the first shift of the game. That goes in, things might be different. Those other guys did a good job. We needed to support them tonight.”
Monday was a night when Colorado’s ‘Nines Line’ couldn’t seem to get going offensively. They were matched tight, and that is why contributions from other areas is important.
“They have a good team on the other side. They have four good lines,” Roy said of the Islanders. “This is a team that I thought played a good game. We had a really good start. I thought we had a solid first period, but they took over in the second and third.”
Consistency, something Roy said he wanted more of from his club following Monday’s morning skate, is paying off for the Avalanche’s forward lines. All of the forwards, with the exception of newcomer Andrew Agozzino, have spent at least a handful of games becoming familiar with each other. Chemistry goes a long way in creating contributory play.
“Anytime you get a chance to play with someone consistently, you get to learn how they play, where guys are going to be,” Comeau said. “We’ve grown as a line the last few games, [and] we’ve got to continue to keep getting better and keep trying to get on the score sheet, but at the same time [play] good defensively as well.”
For Comeau, production has come from an increase in chances to shoot the puck. Though he still credits his linemates for any success.
“[I’m just trying to shoot the puck more. I think the first part of the season, I wasn’t getting very many shot opportunities, and if you’re not getting pucks on net, it’s tough to score goals,” he said. “A lot of the credit goes to my linemates, Cody and Carl. They’ve been playing outstanding. They’ve been making things easy for me, so hopefully we can keep going and contributing.”
Soderberg played a role in multiple goals on Monday night, as he picked up assists on both the first and last markers of the evening.
Defenseman Nick Holden found the back of the net for his first of the 2015-16 season late in the final stanza.
The Avs don’t have much time to dwell on what could have been, however. The club returns to action on Tuesday night against the New Jersey Devils in the second half of a back-to-back set.
The puck drops at 5 p.m. MT.
There was concern that forward Matt Duchene could miss Monday night’s game after an illness held him out of the morning skate, but the 24-year-old forward—in the midst of a hot stretch—played and even started the match.
“He didn't feel good last night, and we just told him to stay at the hotel this morning,” Roy said when asked about No. 9’s absence.
Duchene finished the night with 21 shifts and 19:28 of ice time.
Roy provided another injury update on Monday, stating that forward John Mitchell (oblique) could return Tuesday for the Avalanche’s game in the Garden State.
“He’s very close,” Roy after the morning skate. “I’m pretty confident that he is going to play tomorrow night in New Jersey.”
Mitchell has five goals in 13 contests, including one in his last match on Nov. 14 against the Montreal Canadiens.