Get your game notes: Blues at Blackhawks

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Tonight on CNBC, it’s the Chicago Blackhawks hosting the St. Louis Blues starting at 8:30 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

— St. Louis has won both games in this series in overtime after coming back to tie the score late in the 3rd period (1:45 left in Game 1, 6.4 seconds left in Game 2). On Saturday in Game 2, Vladimir Tarasenko scored the tying goal and Barret Jackman tallied the game-winner at 5:50 of overtime. The comebacks mark just the third time in Stanley Cup Playoffs history that a team has won consecutive games in one series when trailing in the final two minutes of regulation in each contest. The Blues join the Canadiens in Games 1 and 2 against the Bruins in the 1969 Semifinals (won series in 6 gms) and the Flyers in Games 3 and 4 against the Maple Leafs in the 1977 Quarterfinals (won series in 6 gms). (Elias Sports Bureau)

— Brent Seabrook will not play in Game 3, 4 or 5 (if necessary) – the Blackhawks defensemen was suspended yesterday (on his 29th birthday) for 3 games – his first career suspension – for his hit on David Backes late in the 3rd period in Game 2. He was ejected from the game, while Backes went to the locker room as well and did not return. Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said Backes would not have been able to play if Game 3 was yesterday; his status for this game is yet to be determined. Backes was injured back in December, missing a total of 5 games. Although that December ailment was officially diagnosed as an upper-body injury, he was out with concussion-like symptoms initially suffered from a hit taken in a game against Ottawa on Dec. 16.

— The Blues are now 6-1 all-time vs. the ‘Hawks in playoff OT games. They also earned their 6th straight postseason win over Chicago improving to 10-1 in their last 11 playoff meetings dating back to 1993.

— The Blues have won 10 of their previous 11 postseason series when taking a 2-0 advantage. Their lone loss in that situation came last year, falling to LA in 6 games in the WCQF. Chicago has not been down 0-2 since they trailed VAN in the first round of the 2010-‘11 postseason – they were also the defending Stanley Cup champs that season and went on to lose that series in 7 games.

— All 3 Blackhawks goals in Game 2 were by defensemen: Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook & Michal Rozsival. Chicago’s 3 leading scorers in the regular season – Patrick Sharp (78 pts.), Patrick Kane (69) & Jonathan Toews (68) – were each held without a point in Game 2.

— Kevin Shattenkirk tallied 1 goal & 2 assists in Game 2 to become the first Blues defenseman to record 3 pts. in a playoff game since April 24, 1999, when Al MacInnis notched 1G-2A–3PTS against the Coyotes in Game 2 of the WCQF. (Elias Sports Bureau)

— Vladimir Tarasenko returned for the Blues in Game 1 after missing 15 games with a broken right thumb & scored his first career playoff goal. With his 2nd career playoff goal in Game 2 (in his 3rd career playoff game), Tarasenko now has scored in 4 straight games that he’s played in dating back to March 13th of the regular season & has 8 points during a personal 7-game point streak dating back to March 8th.

— After losing 9 of their last 10 games away from the United Center dating back to March 12th of the regular season, Chicago returns home where it’s won 4 straight and 7 of its last 8. The Blackhawks went 27-7-7 at home during the regular season and 11-2 at home last postseason.

Report: Canadiens to sign KHL defenseman Jakub Jerabek

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Just four days after being eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it looks like the Montreal Canadiens’ front office is already hard at work.

The Habs have reportedly agreed to terms with Chekhov Vityaz defenseman Jakub Jerabek, according to KHL reporter Aivis Kalnins.

No official announcement has been made because Jerabek still has four days remaining on his current KHL contract.

The 25-year-old isn’t big (5-foot-10, 180 pounds), but his numbers suggest he’s got a good blend of offensive ability, while playing with an edge.

In his first KHL season, Jerabek scored five goals, 29 assists and accumulated 56 penalty minutes in 59 games.

He had spent the previous eight years with Plzen HC over in the Czech League.

Montreal has plenty of defensemen on their roster, but with the expansion draft and free agency on the horizon, that could change fairly quickly.

Veteran Andrei Markov is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent, but it would be shocking to see him go. Alexei Emelin, Shea Weber, Jeff Petry, Jordie Benn and Brandon Davidson are all signed, while Nathan Beaulieu and Nikita Nesterov are both set to become restricted free agents.

In Beaulieu and Nesterov’s case, there’s a decent chance they won’t be back with the club next year.

Last year’s ninth overall pick, Mikhail Sergachev, will also be looking to make a full-time leap to the NHL in 2017-18, so Jerabek isn’t a slam dunk to become a regular.

PHT Morning Skate: Five under-the-radar coaching candidates

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–We don’t often see franchise players hit the open market, but next summer could be intriguing in that regard. Elliotte Friedman’s “30 Thoughts” blog focuses on the Islanders’ future with or without John Tavares, and what direction the team could be heading in. Friedman also touches on Joel Quenneville’s job security in Chicago and much more. (Sportsnet)

–Some hockey fans have begun questioning the importance of winning faceoffs, but the Anaheim Ducks aren’t among those who doubt the importance of winning draws. “If you start with the puck, you can use it to your advantage on the offensive side of the game. When you’re trying to protect a lead and starting with the puck, you’re killing their momentum that they’re trying to build.” (OC Register)

–Even though it’s been almost 30 years since Wayne Gretzky has suited up for the Edmonton Oilers, he still gets pretty intense during their playoff games. We’ve all gotten to see the footage of a nervous-looking Gretzky watching the Oilers play, and he’s definitely not just putting on a show. “It’s an emotional game and I’ve always been sort of an emotional guy. It’s exciting. Back in Edmonton, the city is on fire. The Oilers are playing with a great deal of passion. You can’t help but get caught up in that passion. That’s what it’s all about. (Edmonton Journal)

–There’s a couple of teams still looking for new head coaches at this point, and Sportsnet’s Ryan Dixon brings up five off-the-board candidates that could step in and get an NHL job very soon. With the success the Capitals have had over the last few seasons, it’s not surprising to see their associate coach Todd Reirden and assistant Lane Lambert get some recognition. (Sportsnet)

–Speaking of people flying under the radar, USA Today looks at eight players that could surprisingly make a huge difference for their teams in the second round. With the injury to Karl Alzner in Washington, Nate Schmidt could eat up some important minutes for the Caps. Pens forward Jake Guentzel, who was terrific in the first round against Columbus, may need to help shoulder the offensive burden. (USA Today)

–Smaller goalie equipment was supposed to make life harder for netminders, but has it had the opposite effect? Since the equipment change became mandatory on Feb. 4, scoring went down by 0.03 goals-per-game. The Hockey News’ Ken Campbell suggests that if the NHL wants to add more scoring, they may be better off making goalies wear bigger equipment. (The Hockey News)

Bruce Cassidy officially named head coach of the Bruins

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Bruce Cassidy wanted it, and now he’s got it.

On Wednesday morning, Cassidy was officially named the 28th head coach of the Boston Bruins.

He really helped turn Boston’s season around after taking over for Claude Julien, who was fired on Feb. 9. Cassidy led the Bruins to an 18-8-1 record in 33 games behind the bench.

Despite being without a number of key players like Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo, David Krejci and others, Cassidy’s Bruins managed to push the Senators before eventually being eliminated in six games in the opening round of the playoffs.

“Obviously we’re talking (the players) about pretty much everything when we’re out shooting the bull, and a lot of guys liked him,” forward David Backes said on Tuesday, per NESN. “He was put into a tough situation — being out of the playoff race, maybe just chasing at the point he takes over to try to take a team and get in … and you figure the way the business works, that he’s probably coaching for his life to make a splash and show that he can be a difference-maker or else who knows what the future holds for him? I think he did a heck of a job, and his results are what a coach should be judged on.”

Cassidy did some impressive work over the final three months of the campaign. Under his watch, the team finished first in goals-per-game (3.37), first in fewest shots allowed (741), tied for second in wins (18), tied for second in power play percentage (27.8), tied for third in goals allowed per game (2.30), and they ranked sixth in takeaways (229).

Prior to joining Julien’s staff as an assistant at the start of the 2016-17 season, Cassidy spent five years as head coach of Boston’s AHL team in Providence.

This is the second head coaching job for the 51-year-old at the NHL level. He previously served as head coach of the Washington Capitals for parts of two seasons (2002-03 to 2003-04).

After surgery, Joe Thornton should be ready for 2017-18 (Wherever he plays)

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On Monday, we found out that Joe Thornton made the “courageous” (or … outrageous?) decision to fight through tears to his ACL and MCL and suit up for the playoffs.

(That still warrants a moment of reflection, because, wow.)

The San Jose Sharks sent out a positive update in that regard: after successful surgery yesterday, Thornton is expected to be ready to play by the start of the 2017-18 season.

So, that answers one big question. It doesn’t settle an even bigger one, though: where will Thornton play next year?

Patrick Marleau indicated that he believes he has “at least five good years” left, a fine thought that becomes trickier when you consider San Jose’s salary structure problems for 2018-19 and on. The impression is that Thornton wants to come back, too, but what if he – justifiably – seeks security in a longer term deal?

That situation is currently unclear, but at least it sounds like he’ll be healthy to start next season, whether he remains a member of the Sharks or joins a different roster.