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At the Rink: Stars at Blackhawks

by Brian Hedger / NHL.com

CHICAGO -- Teuvo Teravainen is ready to make another debut for the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center against the Dallas Stars.

The highly-touted rookie center will make his 2014-15 debut against Dallas on Sunday, centering the fourth line, after making his NHL debut against the Stars a year ago. Hopes remain high for Teravainen, 20, but the Blackhawks are trying to keep a lid on them for now.

Asked what he'd like to see from Teravainen, the 18th pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, Chicago coach Joel Quenneville kept his expectations simplistic.

"Just play, play the right way, [and] let things work out," Quenneville said. "We don’t expect anything other than that. As he gets into the game, we’ll see how he’s playing, how he’s handling it. If he’s doing well, we’ll probably give him more [ice time]."

Teravainen, who could see some power-play time, entered this season aiming to make the Blackhawks' roster. An upper-body injury and Chicago's depth up front made that difficult, and he started the year with the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League. Playing his first full season in North America, on smaller ice surfaces than in Finland, Teravainen didn't dominate right away.

Part of the reason was the style of play in the AHL, which is more dump-and-chase, and part of it was because Teravainen focused on his defensive game. He started to mesh defense with his offense prior to being recalled Friday, which is why he was tabbed to replace injured forward Kris Versteeg.

More of a playmaking center, Teravainen had 23 points (six goals) in 33 games for Rockford. He scored three goals and had seven assists in the previous 13 contests, which included his first three-point outing in a Dec. 28 victory against the Chicago Wolves (one goal).

"I think his game has improved this year on how well he’s started to play without the puck," Quenneville said. "You play without the puck; you seem to get it more. He has a good stick. He’s got some quickness. Wanting the puck is part of it. I think he’s improved in that area. I always find the better you check, the better you are because you have the puck."

Teravainen will start out centering rookie Joakim Nordstrom and Ben Smith. Versteeg is expected to miss a month, so there's a chance Teravainen can play his way up the depth chart a bit, at least to the third line. If that's his intention, he's not sharing it publicly.

"I'm just trying to play my best; that's enough," Teravainen said. "I know there are a lot of expectations. I'm just trying to enjoy my time here, stay positive and be good."

The Blackhawks, coming off a 3-2 loss to the Washington Capitals on Thursday in the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, will have to be good collectively to beat the Stars for a third time in as many games. Dallas has won four straight games and eight of its past nine after beating the Minnesota Wild 7-1 at home Saturday.

The Stars, who didn't skate Sunday, are focused on winning the second game of a back-to-back set for the first time. They're 0-4-0 in those contests so far. Dallas is also hoping to beat another opponent from the Central Division. The Stars are 2-7-3 against division opponents, but have defeated two in a row. The Blackhawks are impressed.

"It seemed like Minnesota didn't even have the puck," Kane said of the Stars' win Saturday. "It was fun to watch a team that can dominate like that, but the bad thing is we've got to play them the next night."

Here are the projected lineups:

STARS

Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Colton Sceviour

Erik Cole - Jason Spezza - Ales Hemsky

Antoine Roussel - Cody Eakin - Ryan Garbutt

Travis Moen - Vernon Fiddler - Brett Ritchie

Alex Goligoski - John Klingberg

Jamie Oleksiak - Trevor Daley

Jordie Benn - Jason Demers

Kari Lehtonen

Anders Lindback

Scratched: David Schlemko, Travis Morin

Injured: Shawn Horcoff (illness), Patrick Eaves (lower body), Valeri Nichushkin (lower body), Patrik Nemeth (arm laceration)

BLACKHAWKS

Brandon Saad - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa

Patrick Sharp - Brad Richards - Patrick Kane

Bryan Bickell -- Marcus Kruger - Andrew Shaw

Joakim Nordstrom - Teuvo Teravainen - Ben Smith

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook

Johnny Oduya - Niklas Hjalmarsson

David Rundblad - Michal Rozsival

Corey Crawford

Antti Raanta

Scratched: Daniel Carcillo, Tim Erixon

Injured: Kris Versteeg (upper body), Trevor van Riemsdyk (patella fracture)

Status report: Carcillo is a healthy scratch for the first time in 21 games. Quenneville said the pace to his game hasn't been good enough the past few contests. ... Nordstrom was a healthy scratch the previous two games and has played in only three other contests since being recalled from Rockford (seven games). ... Schlemko was claimed off waivers Saturday. Whether he plays won't be known until Stars coach Lindy Ruff meets with reporters before the game. Ruff also hasn't named a starting goalie, but Lehtonen is in the mix despite starting Saturday.

Who's hot: Seguin has two goals and three assists in the Stars' win streak, and has points in five of his past seven road games. ... Sharp, who had 10 shots on goal against the Capitals, has a point in three straight games and nine points (four goals) in 11 games since returning from a month-long injury absence.

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