NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Blackhawks’ struggles on faceoffs in Game 1 against the Predators seemed like an opportunity to turn to Antoine Vermette. But don’t count on it.
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said roster changes — outside of Corey Crawford starting in goal — are unlikely for Game 2 on Friday night at Bridgestone Arena.
“We’ll see,” Quenneville said via conference call from the team’s hotel. “Not likely, but something we’ll look at.”
The Hawks won 34-of-88 faceoffs (.386) in Game 1, with only Brad Richards (10-of-18) over .500. Jonathan Toews (10-of-30) and Marcus Kruger (7-of-19) both struggled.
Rookie Teuvo Teravainen acquitted himself well in his first career Stanley Cup playoff game. Teravainen had the primary assist on Niklas Hjalmarsson’s goal in the second period that started the Hawks’ comeback from a 3-0 deficit.
“A great pass by Teuvo,” Patrick Kane said.
“A great first game,” Quenneville said.
Teravainen had one shot on goal in 15:36 of ice time — lowest among the team’s forwards.
“He’s getting better,” Quenneville said. “He had the puck a lot; good play recognition; was up against top lines a lot of the night.; a lot of defensive-zone starts. I thought he had a real nice game and I would expect him to become a little more comfortable with the puck moving forward, because he always does the right things with it.
“Everything happens so fast [in the] first playoff game. I think it’s gets a little hectic out there. It gets a little more predictable with time and I think that will only enhance his strengths and some of the things he likes to do with the puck. So, great first game for him … and I look forward to him getting better as well.”
Mr. Consistency: Sharp’s streak continues
Patrick Sharp’s second-period goal on a 5-on-3 advantage extended an impressive postseason streak: Sharp has scored at least one goal in 18 consecutive playoff series. The next best on the Hawks is Bryan Bickell with nine.
Sharp’s streak began with the Flyers against the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004, when Sharp beat Nikolai Khabibulin in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference final. He was trumped by Brad Richards’ two goals as the Lightning won the game 4-2 and eventually won the series in seven games.
Sharp scored 16 goals in 68 regular-season games — a career-low in goals for a full season. That he got off to a fast start in the playoffs didn’t mean as much as the victory.
“Whatever. It doesn’t matter,” he said when asked about his goal. “It doesn’t matter who scores the goals as long as we’re getting them and winning games.”
Darling win showdown with ex-teammate Forsberg
Filip Forsberg was a heralded prospect and Scott Darling was a not-so-heralded prospect when they were teammates and roommates on the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL in 2013-14. But Darling won the battle in Game 1, stopping six shots by Forsberg in the Hawks’ double-overtime victory.
Forsberg scored 15 goals and 34 points in 47 games for the Admirals last season. Darling was 13-6-2 with a 2.00 goals-against average, .933 save percentage and six shutouts.
Hawks led helping hand for tornado victims
Chicago Blackhawks Charities will donate their portion of the “Split the Pot” proceeds from Game 3 against the Predators on Sunday to the Illinois Tornado Relief Effort, which will aid victims of the recent tornadoes in Fairdale and Rochelle. Besides participating in Split the Pot, fans can make independent donations at Gates 2, 3, 6 and 7 or at any concession or retail stand throughout the United Center. Blackhawks Charities will match all fan donations.
Overtime pays off for Hawks
The Hawks improved to 19-12 in overtime in the playoffs under Quenneville, including 10-5 over the past three postseasons.
Their experience in overtime games is another potential edge they have over the rest of the playoff field. The Hawks have won more overtimes games in the last seven postseasons (19) than any of the other 15 teams have played. The Rangers (5-12) have played 17. The Canucks (6-7) have played 13. No other team in the playoffs has more than nine overtime games.
The Predators don’t have the Blackhawks’ postseason experience, but you don’t need much to know that even devastating losses like Game 1 are just another game in the playoffs.
“You have to win four games to win a series. One game means nothing,” Predators captain Shea Weber said. “Even if we won [Game 1], I think we’d be sitting here saying the same thing.
“We’ve got to stay even-keeled either way, whether you win or lose. Yesterday doesn’t matter and we’re focused on tomorrow.”
After the Predators lost a 3-0 lead in a 5-4 shootout loss to the Hawks at the United Center in December, they beat the Blues the following night and won seven of their next eight games.
“Every game’s its own identity and you’ve got to get yourself ready to play, mentally and physically, the grind of it,” Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. “Our guys will be ready. They’ve proven all year that they’re a competitive group. They’ll be ready to play.”
Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp and Niklas Hjalmarsson played in their 95th playoff game with the Blackhawks in Game 1 — tying Doug Wilson for 12th on the all-time list. Patrick Kane (94), Duncan Keith (94) and Brent Seabrook (90) are right behind them among current Hawks.
The great Stan Mikita is the Hawks all-time leader with 155 playoff games, followed by the spectacular Denis Savard (131) and the incomparable Bobby Hull (116).