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Blackhawks rally to defeat Lightning in Game 1

by Corey Masisak

TAMPA -- For all of the established offensive firepower available to the Chicago Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning, Game 1 of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final was decided by two players who didn't have a regular role before March.

Teuvo Teravainen and Antoine Vermette scored less than two minutes apart late in the third period to help the Blackhawks to a 2-1 victory Wednesday at Amalie Arena.

Game 2 of this best-of-7 series will be played in Tampa on Saturday (7:15 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

Teravainen scored his third goal of the postseason to tie the game at 13:28 and then set up the game-winner. He was in and out of the lineup in the regular season and has been a healthy scratch a few times in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but the 20-year-old has steadily improved this spring and is evolving into the type of player his elite prospect status suggested.

Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith set up Teravainen's goal with some terrific work protecting the puck in the offensive zone while Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos was marking him. He got the puck to Teravainen, whose one-timer beat goaltender Ben Bishop thanks in part to a screen from Marcus Kruger in front.

"He's one of the most talented guys I see, watching him every day," Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa said of Teravainen. "But coming to this team, there are so many skilled players, they decided that instead of playing only a few minutes they put him on a minor team so he could play lots of minutes. Obviously, it's paying off. He's playing with such confidence.

"He's growing more confident every game. He doesn't seem to have a heartbeat. He's so calm. He's Finnish cold."

On Teravainen's next shift, he knocked the puck away from J.T. Brown on the right side of the Tampa Bay zone and into the path of Vermette, whose shot deflected off Brown's stick and past Bishop at 15:26.

It was Vermette's second game-winning goal in five games; he scored in the second overtime of Game 4 of the Western Conference Final. Vermette joined the Blackhawks before the 2015 NHL Trade Deadline from the Arizona Coyotes.

The Lightning were 41-0-2 when leading after two periods in the regular season and postseason combined. They were 9-0 this postseason when scoring first.

Tampa Bay held Chicago to 13 shots on goal through two periods, but the Blackhawks dominated the third and eventually broke through.

"I don't know if 'come to expect it' is the right way to put it, but we certainly believe in ourselves in our locker room," Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp said. "We're never out of any game despite the score or how it looks out there."

Tampa Bay had five shots on goal in the third period, including two in the first 15:26 before Chicago took the lead.

"You want to protect the lead and we've been quite successful in doing so in past games," Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman said. "This time, we're playing a highly skilled team and they're a little bit too good to give that much room and that much puck possession. So, lesson learned."

Conversely, the Lightning kept the high-powered Blackhawks in check for more than 53 minutes. Coach Jon Cooper called Teravainen's goal a "seeing-eye single," and Vermette's goal took a bad-luck deflection on Bishop.

Teravainen's goal ended a shutout streak of 113:28 for Bishop, dating to Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final.

"There's a fine line between respect and fear," Lightning forward Brenden Morrow said. "You can respect them; you can't fear them. It looked like in the third we were holding on and the fear of maybe what would be coming and what might happen."

Alex Killorn scored the lone goal in the first period. Stamkos sent the puck from near the benches to the far corner of the Chicago zone, using the back boards to pass it to Valtteri Filppula. The Lightning center fended off Keith to collect the puck and get it to Stralman at the right point.

Stralman's wrist shot was going well wide of the net, but Killorn backhanded the puck out of the air, off the ice and past stunned Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford. It was Killorn's eighth goal of the playoffs. He had 15 during the regular season.

"It was a shot that was coming … I mean, you don't expect to score on those shots, but I was just trying to sort of hit it towards the net," Killorn said. "Not something you practice, but lucky it went in."

It was a surprisingly tight game with few offensive chances at either end of the ice. Stamkos had two late in the second period, one on a slap shot while alone on the right side of the ice and one seconds later after a faceoff on the edge of the crease.

Lightning forward Ryan Callahan had a breakaway early in the third period, but Crawford, save for his delayed reaction on the Killorn goal, had an excellent game and finished with 22 saves.

"I thought we had chances to put them away. We didn't put them away," Cooper said. "Once you do that, to me, that was letting them hang around."

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