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Teuvo Teravainen has solid debut in Blackhawks’ win

PHOTOS: Teuvo Teravainen makes his Blackhawks debut
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Updated: March 25, 2014 11:01PM



Teuvo Teravainen was in mid-board-hop — his skates hadn’t even touched the ice yet — when a smattering of vigilant Blackhawks fans started clapping. As Teravainen took his first few strides toward the faceoff dot, the cheering grew. By the time he arrived to take his first draw as an NHL center, it was a full-blown roar.

‘‘For me?’’ was his first thought.

Teravainen crouched down and swiped the puck away from the Dallas Stars’ Dustin Jeffrey at the 1:37 mark of the first period Tuesday. And, well, not much happened. He didn’t get a first-shot goal, like Jonathan Toews did in his debut, and he didn’t single-handedly lead the way in the Hawks’ 4-2 victory against the Stars.

The hype was always over the top, even if the excitement was entirely justified. But Teravainen did set up David Rundblad for a tricky one-timer that almost beat goalie Kari Lehtonen on his first shift. He did intercept a pass in his own zone and spark a rush the other way with a sharp outlet pass. He did look shifty and comfortable in Patrick Kane’s usual spot on the power play. He won all seven of his faceoffs and got important minutes down the stretch once the Stars made it a one-goal game on Ryan Garbutt’s second goal of the game, already having earned coach Joel Quenneville’s trust.

Teravainen looked comfortable. He looked confident. He looked competent. He looked quite good.

‘‘I liked him,’’ Quenneville said. ‘‘I thought his awareness around the rink, both sides of the puck, and in the faceoff circle was very strong, very good. He did a nice job. Good start.’’

That’s all the Hawks hoped to see from their most touted and anticipated prospect since Toews and Kane. Sure, they wouldn’t have minded if Teravainen had notched a natural hat trick in his debut. But more than anything, they wanted him to ease into his new role. The Hawks don’t need Teravainen to be spectacular, to be a difference-maker, to be, in his own words, Superman. Heck, they might not even need him to play much at all.

They, like every other Hawks fan, just wanted to see what he can do. So far, so good.

Teravainen, for his part, was pleased. He would have liked to have done more offensively, but he kept things simple and focused on his defensive responsibilities in his first game. He admitted to some nerves but said, ‘‘That’s over now.’’

Now Teravainen just can’t wait to get out there again, whenever that might be.

‘‘It’s so fun to play here,’’ he said. ‘‘And I think it’s easy to play here with these guys. Everybody’s so good.’’

Indeed, the game — against a highly motivated Stars team trying to scratch its way to the final playoff spot in the Western Conference — showed why Teravainen’s not under such pressure, even with Kane on the shelf until the postseason. Duncan Keith and Andrew Shaw each had a goal and an assist, Patrick Sharp had two more assists, Kris Versteeg and Marian Hossa added goals, Toews won 23 of 28 faceoffs and Corey Crawford made 25 saves as the Hawks outshot the Stars 42-27.

Teravainen, meanwhile, played a modest 11:39 on a line with Brandon Saad and Ben Smith, failing to record a shot on goal. He wasn’t spectacular, but he was anything but out of place.

‘‘He looked very cool,’’ Quenne- ville said. ‘‘He’s been on some big stages throughout his career. So commend him on being poised in a very exciting moment in his career.’’

Email: mlazerus@suntimes.com

Twitter: @marklazerus



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