TAMPA, Fla. — When the Chicago Blackhawks were seven minutes away from losing the Stanley Cup final opener, it wasn’t Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane or Duncan Keith who stepped up to carry on the team’s reputation for big-game grit.

Teuvo Teravainen, a 20-year-old Finn who debuted with the Blackhawks in January, scored the tying goal and then set up the winner by Antoine Vermette – who didn’t pull on a Blackhawks sweater until March. Corey Crawford, the goalie who briefly lost his job six weeks ago, quietly shut out Tampa Bay for the final 55 minutes of a one-goal win.

The Blackhawks are going for their third title in six seasons because they’re more than a cluster of stars.

No matter what style they must play to win, the Blackhawks have a culture that sets them up for steady success in the Stanley Cup final, which continues with Game 2 on Saturday night.

The Chicago captain thinks it’s about time to recognize his ever-changing supporting cast and the coaches who keep it all together.

“Everyone wants to talk about this Blackhawks team that keeps coming back to the Stanley Cup final, the common players that have been on those teams, what they do well,” Toews said. “It’s not talked about enough, the support that we have, guys that have come in and really made a huge difference. I think when you’re trying to find ways to win a tough series, you can rely on your best players, but at the same time you need guys to come out of the woodwork. Maybe guys that you don’t expect firsthand to make big plays.”


In their third straight lengthy playoff run, it’s clear the Blackhawks have done a remarkable job collecting enough talent to thrive in the taxing NHL postseason. Other teams have stars, but nobody else has developed enough depth to beat almost any opponent at its own game while still sticking to basic principles of defensive responsibility.

They can grind. They can pick up the pace. They can do both in the same game, if necessary. They simply adapt and excel.

When the Blackhawks were matched up with the bruising Anaheim Ducks in the Western Conference final, they met the physical challenge with little trouble. Against the speedy Lightning, they got off to a slow start before revving up and blowing past Tampa Bay in the third.

And it wasn’t Toews or Kane leading the way.

 The Blackhawks pleaded ignorance Thursday about the possibility that forward Andrew Shaw bit Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman in Game 1.

“I have no idea,” Vermette said. “I read about that. There was a little question about that. I didn’t see it. I don’t know about it.”

Shaw and Hedman got tangled up behind the Tampa Bay net after an officials’ whistle. After the scrum was broken up, Hedman was seen on the bench lifting his jersey to show a spot on his side to a team trainer.

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