TAMPA, Fla. – And to think, Teuvo Teravainen and Antoine Vermette were healthy scratches for the Chicago Blackhawks less than two weeks ago.
In the Stanley Cup Final opener, those two complementary forwards took starring roles for the Blackhawks when they roared from behind to stun the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The 20-year-old Teravainen scored the tying goal and set up Vermette's winner by forcing a turnover from the shaken Lightning, and Chicago finished off a 2-1 victory Wednesday night after going scoreless for the first 53 minutes.
Perhaps most telling about Chicago's 13th victory of the postseason was that the Blackhawks didn't rely on Jonathan Toews or Patrick Kane, who have combined for 19 goals this spring.
Instead, they got clutch goals from Teravainen and Vermette, who were both benched at home for Game 3 of the Western Conference finals against Anaheim.
Chicago coach Joel Quenneville's lineup shakeup didn't do much, and the Ducks took a 2-1 series lead. Since the two returned to the lineup, the Blackhawks have gone 4-1.
"I know we have a great team," Teravainen said. "We have a lot of experience, but myself, I'm a young guy here, so I try to bring some energy. Tampa Bay is a really great team. It's a fast game out there. You have to be ready."
Here are five more things to consider while the clubs prepare for Game 2 on Saturday:
PLAY FAST: Another key to the Blackhawks' comeback was their gradual embrace of the speed-based game favored by the Lightning. After slugging it out for seven games with tough-nosed Anaheim, Chicago remembered it can keep up with Tampa Bay, and the Hawks started moving. By the end, they were flying. "We need to be ready from the get-go," defenseman Duncan Keith said. "We need to be moving our feet against this team."
SAFETY LAST: The Lightning knew what they did wrong. While Chicago sped up in the third period, Tampa Bay sat back and clearly thought too much about protecting a 1-0 lead, something that worked for 49 minutes until Teravainen broke through. "I think for 45 of the 60 minutes, we were pretty great," Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos said. "We just let a team stick around that's experienced in these situations."
WHITHER THE TRIPLETS: Tampa Bay's heralded young line of Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov barely made an impact, managing just two shots on Corey Crawford. The Stanley Cup Final is the biggest stage yet for these three high scorers, and Chicago is the toughest playoff opponent they've ever faced. The Lightning need them — particularly Johnson, whose 12 goals lead the league for the playoffs.
GOALIE FACEOFF: Nobody said much about Crawford and his Tampa Bay counterpart, Ben Bishop, heading into this series, largely because it's expected to be a high-scoring affair. Yet both netminders were essentially blameless in the opener: Alex Killorn's goal for Tampa Bay was a nearly supernatural deflection, while Bishop was beaten with two perfectly placed shots. Crawford and Bishop might play bigger roles than people expect.
PRESSURE COOKER: Not that the Lightning need motivation in June, but the necessity of avoiding an 0-2 series deficit with three upcoming games in Chicago should make for three nights of light sleep for the home team before Saturday.