All that a player can ask for is an opportunity to show what they’re capable of. Once they get it, it’s up to them to make the most of it. That’s exactly what Blake Comeau
is doing right now.
The Penguins forward had a tremendous night on Wednesday, scoring his second-career hat trick – which included the overtime game-winner – to lead the Pens to a 4-3 victory over the Maple Leafs at CONSOL Energy Center.
“It feels good,” Comeau said. “I’m getting a good opportunity to play with some really good players. It feels good to be able to contribute offensively.”
Comeau’s final goal came 2:53 into extra time after defenseman Kris Letang fed a pass up to the winger along the boards. Comeau then skated the puck to the top of the slot, where he waited for the perfect moment to strike. After seeing Sidney Crosby screening Jonathan Bernier, Comeau ripped a shot over the left shoulder of the Leafs goaltender.
“I passed it up to (Letang) and he did a good job of giving it back,” Comeau said. “Going down the middle, I had some space up top and I just tried to wait out the guy in front of me. I shot the puck; saw (Crosby’s) stick there. I wasn’t quite sure if he got it or not. He says he didn’t so I’ll take it.”
After having a career year with the New York Islanders in 2010-11, where Comeau scored 24 goals and posted 46 points, the 28-year-old forward will be the first to say his numbers dropped off after that. He didn’t get more than six goals in each of the three seasons after that.
However, both Comeau and the coaching staff knew what he was capable of offensively. And so far, they’ve been giving him ample opportunity to show it – and he’s been taking full advantage. Comeau has been moving around the top-six, first on a line with Evgeni Malkin for a stretch, then with Crosby for a few games and now back with Malkin again – who helped set up Comeau’s first two goals tonight.
“In the back of my mind, I always felt like I had more to offer and here I’m getting a great opportunity to show that,” Comeau said. “I just want to take that opportunity and run with it.”
Head coach Mike Johnston loves the way Comeau has played from the first time he stepped onto the ice wearing a Penguins jersey back in training camp.
“I think it was pretty evident right away in exhibition play that he was playing with speed, playing with some confidence, playing with poise on the puck,” Johnston said. “It just seems to keep going for him. He’s played on different lines, as some guys have. He’s adjusted, adapted. He’s a very coachable individual.
“It’s interesting when players come to a new organization. If they get confidence, get on a roll, some guys can change their fortune. Because at one time, he was a very good hockey player and the he just had some bumps along the way, some ups and downs. Now he’s really played well for us. Just so consistent from Day 1.”
Tonight marked Comeau’s first three-goal game in four years. His first came back in March of 2010 against the Chicago Blackhawks when he was a member of the New York Islanders.
“Anytime you can score three, it’s a good feeling,” Comeau said. “Things are going well right now for the start of the season and I’m just looking forward to keep trying to roll and trying to contribute where I can.”