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Blackhawks' Teravainen making impact in playoffs

by Corey Masisak /

CHICAGO -- In case it wasn't clear that forward Teuvo Teravainen is the youngest member of the Chicago Blackhawks, his deflated response Friday about his inability to grow a playoff beard was a reminder.

"I'm trying," Teravainen said with a sheepish attempt at a smile. "Maybe next year."

Teravainen doesn't turn 21 until September, but his first Stanley Cup Playoff goal was a big one. The Minnesota Wild had scored three straight in Game 1 of this Western Conference Second Round series and were carrying the play before Teravainen's shot from the left wall beat Devan Dubnyk at 19:01 of the second period.

The goal gave the Blackhawks a 4-3 lead and held up as the winner. Teravainen is the youngest player to score a game-winning goal in the playoffs for Chicago since Jeremy Roenick in 1990.

"It's a great feeling of course," Teravainen said. "I just think I had to shoot more. I got the puck there and I just tried to shoot. Sometimes good things happen."

Coach Joel Quenneville planned on putting Teravainen back in the lineup for Game 1 anyway, but Kris Versteeg's lingering lower-body injury ensured his place. Quenneville said Saturday his plans for Sunday in Game 2 are status quo (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports 2).

"It was obviously very timely and a big goal in a big setting, and certainly he's a confident guy in the way he plays the game, I think, with and without the puck," Quenneville said after the game. "I think he wants to be out there, he wants to be in good situations. In the last minute of the period, they did the right thing. It wasn't a fancy play, just put it at the net. Something we harp on, and we got a break."

The baby-faced rookie hadn't played for Chicago since Game 2 of the Western Conference First Round against the Nashville Predators. There is no question about Teravainen's talent, but finding a regular place in the lineup has been a challenge.

He was a first-round pick (No. 18) by Chicago in the 2012 NHL Draft, but went from really good prospect to elite status during the next two seasons, producing 75 points in 93 games for Jokerit in the top Finnish league and scoring 26 points in 13 games at the IIHF World Junior Championship.

The anticipation for "Teuvo Time" in Chicago built during the 2013-14 season, and he arrived in North America to much fanfare near the end of last season. He was not an instant sensation though. A combination of his slight frame (5-foot-11, 178 pounds) and Chicago's stacked roster kept him from having much of an impact.

This season, Teravainen bounced back and forth between Rockford of the American Hockey League and Chicago, and he had nine points in 34 NHL games.

Teuvo Teravainen
Center - CHI
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 1 | PTS: 2
SOG: 2 | +/-: 0
"You could see it in the camp before the season. He has special vision and his hands are really good, better than most of the players in this League," Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said. "Just give him some time and I think he'll be a great player. I think he's starting to show some big signs of that.

"He's a guy with tons and tons of talent. His hands are, I'm pretty jealous of his hands. He can do things with the puck that kind of amazes you. I just think the more he plays, the better he's going to be. It probably feels pretty good for him to get that big goal."

There are other examples of hyped prospects needing time to settle at the NHL level. Nashville Predators forward Filip Forsberg might be the most similar, and that type of breakout season could be in Teravainen's near future.

The Blackhawks don't need him to be at that level right now. If he can solidify his spot on the third line next to Antoine Vermette and Patrick Sharp, it reinforces an area of strength. Chicago probably has the deepest group of forwards among the eight teams still playing.

"He's a confident kid without the goal anyway," Sharp said. "You want to get the puck in his hands as much as you can. I know he's real happy about contributing offensively. He got us going [early] in Nashville too. The way he played [Friday], we're happy for him and hopefully he can continue going forward."

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