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Comeau's hat trick leads Isles to 5-3 win over Hawks

by Brian Compton

UNIONDALE , N.Y. -- Blake Comeau looks an awful lot like Sidney Crosby.

He's suddenly playing an awful lot like him, too.

After scoring a pair of goals in the final game before the Olympic break, Comeau notched a hat trick in the first game back as theNew York Islanders returned with a 5-3 victory against theChicago Blackhawks at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Tuesday night.

With five tallies in his last two games, Comeau now has 12 goals this season, a career high.Richard Park and Jon Sim also scored as the Isles (26-29-8) earned an impressive win just hours after shipping stay-at-home defenseman Andy Sutton to the Ottawa Senators.

"It's the best I've felt in a while … that's for sure," said Comeau, who had trouble just cracking the lineup earlier this season. "Obviously, it's a confidence booster when you're contributing offensively. I just want to keep playing the way I'm playing and try to help the team make the playoffs."

In what may or not be his final game as an Islander, Dwayne Roloson made 41 saves for his 20th win of the season. With a handful of teams in the market for a goaltender, Roloson's name has been mentioned in trade rumors as the deadline arrives at 3 p.m. on Wednesday.

"It's a good thing he's changed his curve … he's shooting a lot better," Roloson joked when asked about Comeau's performance. "Fortunately, I get to see it in practice now."

Brian Campbell gave Chicago (41-16-5) a 1-0 lead midway through the first period. After Roloson made an initial save on a wrister from the right circle by Patrick Kane, Campbell collected the rebound and quickly fired it off Roloson and into the net for his seventh goal of the season.

But the Isles tied it at 12:16 thanks to an uncharacteristic turnover by Brent Seabrook. He tried to make a cross-ice feed that was redirected by Rob Schremp to Comeau, who ripped a wrist shot from between the circles past Antti Niemi to make it 1-1.

"He's shooting the puck," Isles coach Scott Gordon said of Comeau. "It's no different than Josh (Bailey). Josh was always pass-first mentality. (Isles GM) Garth (Snow) said it one day that the guys that make the money are the ones that score the goals, so you might as well be one of those."

Kane restored Chicago's lead via the power play at 13:19. With Park in the penalty box, Kane took a pass fromDuncan Keith and skated around the net untouched before beating Roloson on a wraparound. It was his 26th goal of the season.

The Blackhawks -- who didn't receive a penalty the entire game -- took the one-goal lead into the first intermission and outshot the Isles 22-9.

"That first period, Rollie came up huge for us to keep it close," Gordon said. "It allowed us to get our legs underneath us."

New York

responded with a pair of goals in 25 seconds early in the second period to take a 3-2 lead. Comeau tied it with his second of the night at 2:27, when he took a pass from Schremp and ripped a gorgeous wrist shot from the left circle past Niemi. Sim was then credited with the go-ahead goal when he went to the net and redirected a shot by Park past Huet.

That goal prompted Chicago coach Joel Quenneville to replace Niemi -- who had won four straight starts -- withCristobal Huet. Niemi allowed three goals on 12 shots.

"We lost a lot of momentum when they scored (to make it) 3-2," Quenneville said. "Second periods seem to be something of a concern recently. Everything changed after that second goal."

What hasn't changed are the Hawks' feelings about Niemi, who has been solid all season long. They weren't about to pin this one on their goalie.

"Not his fault at all," Kane said of Niemi, who fell to 17-5-1. "Two of the goals were rockets. The other one I think was screened. To be honest with you, he probably just switched it up to maybe get the team going a little bit. Niemi's been great, so you can't really fault him."

But the change didn't ignite a spark. Park then doubled the Islanders' lead at 7:06 of the second on a slap shot from the right circle that managed to find its way past Huet. It was Park's seventh goal of the season.

"I thought we did a good job of getting pucks in deep behind their 'D,'" Comeau said. "We got the forecheck going better. We'll take the win."

Comeau completed the hat trick with 17.3 seconds left in the second. With the Isles buzzing again,Mark Streit faked a slap shot and fed Comeau in the slot, where he ripped a wrist shot past Huet to make it 5-2 to all but ensure the Isles' sixth straight win against Chicago.

"That was a good feeling … it's been a while since I've gotten a hat trick," Comeau said. "It was a great pass by Streiter. He obviously had the shot lane and he chose the pass. I was excited."

The Blackhawks had a goal waved off with 9:46 left in the third when it was ruled thatBen Eager interfered with Roloson as he attempted to denyKris Versteeg's wrist shot from just inside the point.Dustin Byfuglien cut the deficit to 5-3 when he beat Roloson on the power play with 4:17 left.

"The second period pretty much killed us," Kane said. "I don't know if we got too comfortable and thought it was going to be an easy game against these guys or what. They obviously capitalized on their opportunities. There's really no explanation for it."

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter at: @BComptonNHL

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