Blake Comeau scored his first NHL hat-trick and sparked a four-goal, second-period rally to lift the New York Islanders to a 5-3 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night. "It's a big boost," said Comeau, who recently started using his teammate Trent Hunter's stick. "The shots just seemed to have eyes. I'll take them."
"He had a great shot before he changed sticks," said Scott Gordon, the Islanders coach. "It's [about] getting him to understand to use his shot when he has the opportunity instead of looking for the pass." Sergei Gonchar, Pascal Dupuis and Ruslan Fedotenko all scored for the Pittsburgh Penguins, who returned from the two-week Olympic break with a 3-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres. Sidney Crosby, who scored Canada's gold-medal winning goal at the Vancouver Games had an assist, although his rematch with Ryan Miller, the American goaltender, failed to materialise as Patrick Lalime played in net for the Sabres and made 25 saves.
Crosby was limited to 17 minutes in his return to NHL action but the Stanley Cup champions were able to thrive without a big night from their main player. "It's not bad, [despite] going on a long flight and getting here and getting right back in the swing of things," Crosby said. "I'll try to manage my rest as we go along here, but I felt all right considering all that." Buffalo fell 2-0 behind before Toni Lydman, who played for Finland at the Games, put the visitors on the board. Derek Roy added Buffalo's second goal with less than six minutes left, and just three minutes after Fedotenko had given Pittsburgh a 3-1 lead.
The Sabres (33-19-9) have now lost seven of their last eight matches and remain one game behind the Ottawa Senators for the Northeast Division lead. "Physically it wasn't that big of a deal but maybe mentally it's a little more draining than a usual regular season game," Lydman said. "But you can't blame it on the break, they had some guys who played in the tournament, too." The Montreal Canadiens scored four times in the third period to beat the Boston Bruins 4-1.
Montreal, who lost three games out of four before the break, moved to seventh in the Eastern Conference and dropped the Bruins into a tie with the New York Rangers for the final spot in the play-off race. "We knew this stretch was going to be important, and we knew we needed to start it off right," said Carey Price, the Canadiens goalie. "I think after the break everybody realises how important the games are." * With agencies