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Tocchet would love another shot at a head coaching job

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There are still two vacant head coaching jobs in the NHL with the Buffalo Sabres and Florida Panthers still in need of a new bench boss, and it seems possible that Pittsburgh Penguins assistant coach Rick Tocchet could be a potential candidate for at least one of them as he has been linked to several coaching vacancies this year.

In an interview with TSN’s Frank Seravalli on Saturday, Tocchet said that even though working on Mike Sullivan’s staff in Pittsburgh has been the most fun he has ever had coaching in the NHL, he would still like another opportunity to be a head coach in the NHL again.

“If a situation arises, I’d love a shot at it,” Tocchet told Seravalli. “Listen, there’s a lot of great coaches out there. Every year, it seems, there’s a flavor of the year coach – whether it’s a guy in the minors or an assistant that’s winning. I think I’m a good coach. I can work with anybody chemistry-wise. If it works out, it works out. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I’m lucky in the situation I’m in, this is the best job other than being a head coach, being with Mike and the Penguins.”

The obvious potential landing spot for Tocchet would seem to be the Buffalo job given who the Sabres hired — former Penguins assistant general manager Jason Botterill — to continue their rebuild.

Botterill has already talked about using Pittsburgh as a model for how to rebuild the Sabres, specifically their NHL-AHL relationship, and would like to hire a head coach with “presence” to make sure “the players understand the head coach is in control.”

Tocchet would certainly fit that description, and there is an obvious connection between him and the new front office.

His only head coaching experience in the NHL came during the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons when he had an opportunity to work for what was at the time a completely dysfunctional Tampa Bay Lighting team. He replaced Barry Melrose just 16 games into the 2008-09 season and had one full season after that before being fired with a 53-69-26 record.

He remained out of coaching until the start of the 2014-15 season when he was hired by the Penguins to be an assistant. He remained with the team during the Mike Johnston-to-Mike Sullivan change during the 2015-16 season which ended with the Penguins winning the Stanley Cup.

The Buzzer: Kempe, Schwartz record hat tricks; Leafs honor Gord Downie

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Players of the night: Jaden Schwartz, St. Louis Blues / Adrian Kempe, Los Angeles Kings

The Blues forward tallied his third career hat trick during a 5-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Schwartz scored the game’s first two goals before completing his hat trick with a late empty-net goal to stave off a Chicago comeback.

Wednesday’s feat for Schwartz came three years to the day of his first career three-goal game.

Kempe, meanwhile, tallied his first NHL hat trick and finished with four points during LA’s 5-1 rout of the Montreal Canadiens. Two of his three goals were assisted by Mike Cammalleri, who also finished the night with four points.

Highlight of the night:

Eddie Olczyk returned to the NBC broadcast booth as he continues his battle against colon cancer. Olczyk, along with Doc Emrick, called the Blues-Blackhawks game from Scottrade Center Wednesday night.

MISC:

Auston Matthews recorded the 20th multi-point game of his career. He now has six goals and 10 points on the season.

Patrick Marleau became the 18th NHL player to reach the 1,500-game mark.

Jake Allen kept his shutout bid alive with this great stick save on Patrick Kane late:

-The Kings are off their best start in franchise history at 5-0-1. They’ve allowed only 10 goals against through six games.

Jeff Carter left the game in the first period and did not return after tangling with Jeff Petry. Afterward, Kings head coach John Stevens said the forward will miss some time.

-Finally, The Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie passed away from cancer at age 53 on Wednesday. The Maple Leafs paid tribute before their game against the Red Wings.

Factoid of the night:

Scores:

Maple Leafs 6, Red Wings 3

Blues 5, Blackhawks 2

Kings 5, Canadiens 1

Cammalleri, Kempe power Kings over Canadiens

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Adrian Kempe recorded his first career NHL hat trick and Mike Cammalleri added two goals as the Los Angeles Kings beat the Montreal Canadiens 5-1.

After Paul Byron opened the scoring for Montreal midway through the first period, the Kings responded with five unanswered goals to hand the Habs their sixth straight defeat.

Cammalleri, who inked a one-year deal over the summer to return to the Kings, had a hand in four of LA’s five goals. He started the scoring for the Kings in the first period by celebrating the Dodgers’ playoff run with his own special kind of baseball swing.

Kempe, who finished with four points as well, scored his three goals over a span of 10:50 in the third period to help the Kings to their best start in franchise history (5-0-1).

LA remains the only NHL team yet to lose in regulation this season.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Jaden Schwartz’s hat trick leads Blues over Blackhawks

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Jaden Schwartz‘s third career hat trick helped power the St. Louis Blues over the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2 in a Central Division clash Wednesday night at Scottrade Center.

Schwartz’s eventful evening began with a goal 4:46 into the first period. It was nearly ended minutes later after a scary crash into the end boards following a scoring chance.

After missing some time, Schwartz returned in the second period and doubled the Blues’ lead with his fourth of a season, thanks to a great outlet pass from Allen.

As the Blues built up a 4-0 lead, the Blackhawks spoiled Allen’s shutout bid with a pair of late power play goals 80 seconds apart. The furious rally was stopped, however, and Schwartz capped off his hat trick with an empty netter to put the game out of reach.

St. Louis dominated the first two periods, outshooting the Blackhawks 26-8 as they built up their 2-0 lead. The Blackhawks’ power play failed them early in the game, missing out on five chances to capitalize with the extra man through 40 minutes.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

WATCH LIVE: Canadiens at Kings

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The Montreal Canadiens play their second game of a three-game west coast trip Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Kings.

It hasn’t been the best start for the Habs, who sit tied for last in the Eastern Conference with a 1-4-1 record. They’re winless since an opening night win over the Buffalo Sabres. On the other side of things, the Kings are the only NHL team that has yet to lose in regulation. Their 4-0-1 start puts them a point behind the Vegas Golden Knights, and their game in-hand gives them the opportunity to leap into first place in the Pacific Division with a victory.

You can check out tonight’s game on NBCSN (10:30 p.m. ET) or online via the live stream.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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