By Shane Nicholson
Former Rockford IceHogs standout Teuvo Teravainen provided the launching point Wednesday night as the Blackhawks came back to top the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
The Western Conference champions failed to take advantage of Tampa Bay’s lower defensive units early, looking uncomfortable in possession against the Lightning’s sixth and seventh defensemen.
The Hawks went down early with Alex Killorn scoring inside of 5 minutes after Duncan Keith lost a 50/50 battle deep in his own zone. Chicago played a labored final 15 minutes of the opening frame, trying to match the Lightning’s quickness and failing nearly ever stride.
The second period was a tight affair with few clear chances on goal. Both teams seemed content to hold the scoreline steady as the Hawks failed to find an offensive rhythm, having trouble cycling the puck through the Tampa Bay zone and creating very few chances.
Corey Crawford made a series of quality saves, reminding fans that he had shaken off his early playoff woes and showing the form that helped lead the Blackhawks to a title in 2013.
The third period played through much the same early on with Crawford making a succession of saves until Teravainen leveled for the Blackhawks at 13:28, gathering a pass on the left side and firing in a quick wrist shot which beat goalie Ben Bishop high to his right.
The former IceHog was involved in the buildup of the Blackhawks’ second, laying off a pass to Antoine Vermette less than 2 minutes later as Chicago took their first lead of the game.
The Hawks saw off Tampa Bay’s empty net advantage over the final 90 seconds to close out Game 1, taking a lead in the best-of-seven series.
Teravainen finished with a goal and an assist. Crawford recorded 22 saves.
Game 2 is Saturday at 6 p.m. on NBC.