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Comeau's hat trick leads Islanders past Blackhawks

New York Islanders' Blake Comeau is congratulated by

New York Islanders' Blake Comeau is congratulated by teammates on the bench after scoring against the Chicago Blackhawks during the first period. (March 2, 2010) Credit: AP

If the Islanders' trade deadline stance as sellers was supposed to signify that the organization was giving up and looking ahead to next season, someone forgot to relay the message to the team.

Blake Comeau certainly did not receive the memo.

He earned his first NHL hat trick last night to lead the Islanders to an uplifting 5-3 win over a Blackhawks team that ranks second in the Western Conference with 87 points. It was only the third win for the Islanders in their last 12 games.

Goalie Dwayne Roloson (41 saves) also delivered the type of standout performance that solidified him as the backbone of the team earlier this season.

"It's big for us," Comeau said. "They're a good hockey club and it's a big confidence booster. We're excited for the win and now we've got to keep going."

Comeau kept his team within reach by scoring the lone Islanders goal in a dismal first period during which they were outshot 22-9.

Trailing 2-1, Comeau scored twice in the second period, when the Islanders rattled off four consecutive goals to stun the Blackhawks and take a 5-2 lead into the third.

The absence of 6-6, 245-pound defenseman Andy Sutton, who was traded to Ottawa hours before the game, appeared to create a gaping hole for the Islanders when Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist to give the Blackhawks a 2-1 lead in the first.

To ignite an inspired second period, Comeau went top shelf against goaltender Antti Niemi 2:27 in to earn his second consecutive multigoal game. Twenty-five seconds later, Jon Sim scored the go-ahead goal, prompting Chicago to replace Niemi with Cristobal Huet.

Richard Park added a goal with a slap shot from the right circle that froze Huet and gave the Islanders a 4-2 lead at 7:06.

With 17.3 seconds left in the second, defenseman Mark Streit passed up a shot from the point and dished to Comeau in the high slot for a goal that left the Coliseum ice littered with giveaway dolls and a smattering of hats.

"It felt awesome. [Coach Scott] Gordon asked me the last time I scored a hat trick, and I told him in peewee," Comeau said. "It's been a while."

Think the Islanders are giving up? Think again.

"With the makeup of our team, that's not something I'm concerned about," Gordon said. "Our guys are young, hungry and they want to be successful."

Notes & quotes: An update on the swollen knee of goalie Rick DiPietro, who was placed on injured reserve Tuesday retroactive to Feb. 28, is expected Wednesday.


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