Teravainen holds his own in NHL debut

CHICAGO -- Teuvo Teravainen heard the applause as he took the ice for the first time 1 minute, 27 seconds into Tuesday’s game against the Dallas Stars, but being 19 years old and playing in his first NHL regular-season game, he didn’t want to assume too much.

“Like I was thinking, ‘Was it for me?’” said Teravainen, who was a healthy scratch his first two games since arriving from Finland on Thursday. “I don’t know. That was fun.”

The fans’ initial recognition was just the start for Teravainen. He didn’t record any points in the Chicago Blackhawks’ 4-2 victory over the Stars, but proved he more than belonged on an NHL sheet of ice. He won all seven of his faceoffs, showed off his elite vision with a few eye-opening passes and impressed defensive-minded Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville with his defensive play.

Quenneville’s confidence in Teravainen was shown by the 11:39 of ice time, including 1:29 on the power play, he received in a key game for the Blackhawks, who are still battling for playoff position.

“I liked him,” Quenneville said. “His awareness around the rink, both sides of the pucks, in the faceoff circle, were very strong, very good. Yeah, so I thought he did a nice job. Good start.”

Teravainen was harder on himself. He thought he was just OK. He felt his legs weren’t there for parts of the game, and he didn’t play as aggressively as he normally does in the offensive zone.

“I felt like I could really play in this league and really help the team,” Teravainen said. “I still don’t think that was my best game out there. I tried to play simple, just small things right. I really think I can play better.”

One of Teravainen’s highlight plays included working a two-on-one with Ben Smith in the second period. With both skating into the Stars’ zone, Smith centered the puck to Teravainen, who knocked it right back to Smith on the right wing. The Stars’ defenseman bit enough on Teravainen, and Smith had space to shoot from the right circle.

Later in the period, Teravainen nearly connected with Brandon Saad with a cross-ice pass, but just missed him on the right side.

Teravainen felt he was able to so easily slip into the lineup and be a factor because of the players around him.

“It’s so fun to play here,” Teravainen said. “It’s easy to play here with these guys here. Everybody is [such a] good player. It’s easy to play with these guys.”

And he was sure it would get only easier for him in the future.

“Maybe I [felt] nervous, but it’s good it’s over now,” Teravainen said. “We won the game. I’m really looking to play the next game. It’s fun to play hockey.”