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Will ‘Hawks rue the one that got away?


If the Chicago Blackhawks would like any advice on how to move on from a bad loss, they need only look to the team that gave them a particularly bad one Saturday at the United Center.

On Thursday, the day after Chicago’s thrilling triple-overtime victory over the Bruins to open the 2013 Stanley Cup Final, Boston head coach Claude Julien spoke about his group’s knack for fighting back from postseason deficits.

“We’ve been through a lot,” said Julien. “When you go back to the year we won, we were down 2-0 to Montreal losing our first two games at home. We bounced back from that. We’re down 2-0 against Vancouver in the Final and we came back. I don’t think much is going to rattle our team.  We’re a pretty resilient group of guys. We live in the moment.”

In fact, after 20 minutes of Game 2, it appeared Julien would have to sing that same tune again. Instead, the Bruins turned things around mid-game, shaking off a first period that saw them outshot, 19-4, and outscored, 1-0, by the Blackhawks.

Chris Kelly potted his first of the postseason in the second; Dan Paille sniped home the winner in overtime. The Bruins ended up outshooting the ‘Hawks, 24-15, in the second, third, and overtime periods combined.

“If someone watched the first period, they would say ‘Give (Chicago) the Cup right now,”‘ said Bruins forward Jaromir Jagr, who was lambasted after the opening stanza by NBC analyst Mike Milbury.

“We definitely were in survival mode there for a bit,” said goalie Tuukka Rask, who continued his run of playoff brilliance tonight.

“It looked like they had more guys out there than we did. They were bouncing on every single puck in front of net, had a lot of chances. We definitely played pretty bad.

“But it was good that we were only down by one and regrouped after that.”

Julien concurred: “We were on our heels. They had total control of that period. Tuukka kept us in there.”

For the Blackhawks, this is the kind of loss that can come back to haunt a team. Granted, this series is far from over. But Monday and Wednesday the action shifts to TD Garden, a rink where the Bruins have won six straight, a streak that just happened to start with an astonishing comeback versus the Maple Leafs.

Perhaps the Blackhawks can take solace in the fact they had the Bruins on the run in Game 2, if only for a period.

“We had the perfect start to the game, then we stopped doing what made us successful,” said head coach Joel Quenneville. “We stood around. They countered.”

And it’s not like the ‘Hawks haven’t overcome adversity themselves. In the second round, they fought back from a 3-1 series deficit versus the Red Wings.

For now though, the momentum belongs to the B’s.

After 20-game absence, Elias to make season debut for Devils

Patrik Elias
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It took a while, but Patrik Elias‘ campaign is ready to get underway.

Elias, who’s yet to play this year because of a knee injury, says he’ll be in the New Jersey lineup tonight when the Devils host the Blue Jackets at Prudential (per The Record).

The 39-year-old’s presence should provide an emotional lift in front of the home crowd.

A lifelong Devil — only Ken Daneyko and Martin Brodeur have appeared in more games — fans may be witnessing Elias’ last year in uniform. It’s fair to suggest he could be on the verge of retirement, given he’s in the last of a three-year, $16.5 million deal and will turn 40 in April.

As for tonight, it’s not yet official who Elias will play with — or how much he’ll play. He did take line rushes with Jacob Josefson and Stefan Matteau at Tuesday’s practice.

After three-game absence, Johnson back for Bolts this week

Carl Gunnarsson, Tyler Johnson
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The Lightning have a busy stretch of the schedule coming up, with three games in the next four nights.

And it sounds like they’ll get a big lineup reinforcement to help them through it.

Per LA Kings Insider — the Kings are in Tampa tonight — Bolts head coach Jon Cooper confirmed that Tyler Johnson will be back in the lineup “at some point” this week, after missing the last three games with an upper-body injury.

Johnson has been out of the lineup since taking a Dave Bolland hit on Nov. 14. The timing of the injury was lousy, especially since Johnson looked to be rounding into form — after a rough October in which he failed to score a goal and had just five points in 12 games, Johnson was playing well in November, with three goals and five points in his first six games.

There’s no denying the Bolts could use Johnson back in the mix.

The club has been ravaged by injury lately and is currently without the services of Ondrej Palat, Jonathan Drouin and Cedric Paquette at forward.

The injuries are a big reason why Tampa is off to a mediocre 10-9-3 start. That said, the team has looked good in each of its last two games — a 2-1 win over the Rangers in a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Final, followed by a 5-0 blowout of the Ducks on Saturday.

As for when Johnson might get back in? The Bolts play tonight at home against L.A., on Friday in Washington, then back at home on Saturday against the Islanders.

Will the Bruins re-sign Loui Eriksson?

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Loui Eriksson, one of the key pieces Boston acquired in the Tyler Seguin trade, is in the last of his six-year, $25.5 million deal and will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

And, at least for now, there doesn’t appear to be much certainty about his future as a Bruin.

“I’ll never, ever comment publicly in regard to individual players and negotiations and such,” B’s GM Don Sweeney told the Boston Herald this week. “Whether (comments) come out from the other side or wherever, they’re not going to come from me.

“He’s a big part of our team and he’s off to a really good start.”

Eriksson is certainly off to a good start — nine goals and 18 points in 20 games, his highest points-per-game average (.90) since coming to Boston, and the second-highest of his career.

He’s also playing nearly 20 minutes per night, enjoying great chemistry playing alongside David Krejci and, after an injury-riddled first year as a Bruin followed by last year’s playoff miss, seems to have really found his groove.

So why the silence on the extension front?

Two weeks ago, Eriksson told the Globe his agent, J.P. Barry, hasn’t had any discussions with Sweeney about re-signing in Boston.

“There’s not much you can really do about it now,” the 30-year-old Swede explained. “I’m trying to focus on playing good and trying to help this team as much as possible. Then we’ll see what happens after this year.”

Obviously, money is a factor.

Looking ahead, Boston’s current cap crunch doesn’t project to get much lighter. The club already has $61 million in salary committed for next season (per War On Ice), and Sweeney has to be mindful of other important contracts on the horizon.

Torey Krug is a restricted free agent at year’s end, and in line for a raise on the $3.4 million he made this season. Brad Marchand will be a UFA following the ’16-17 campaign.

And you’d think Sweeney would want to keep money free to eventually sort out Boston’s defense. The blueline has been an issue this season; it’s also getting old and will likely need an injection of new blood in the near future.

There’s also the question if, should he head to free agency, Eriksson couldn’t be replaced internally. The B’s are flush with young wingers — Jimmy Hayes, Brett Connolly, Seth Griffith, David Pastrnak, Frank Vatrano and Alexander Khokhlachev are all 26 or under — which could make Eriksson expendable.

PHT Morning Skate: There’s a third Strome brother on the horizon

Ryan Strome, Johnny Boychuk
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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Matthew Strome — the younger brother of the Isles’ Ryan and the Coyotes’ Dylan — is making waves as a 16-year-old rookie with OHL Hamilton. (NHL.com)

Vern Fiddler caught country legend George Straight’s hat at a concert this summer. He’s apparently received big money offers for the lid, but isn’t willing to sell. (Ottawa Sun)

Is Anders Nilsson the Oilers’ No. 1 goalie? (Edmonton Journal)

Good piece here on Max Pacioretty‘s captaincy in Montreal. (New York Times)

Some appreciation for gritty Leafs forward Leo Komarov. (Toronto Sun)

According to this piece, GM Marc Bergevin has been the Habs’ MVP this season. (Montreal Gazette)