Blues get a save from Lapierre; Quenneville is fined

News-DemocratApril 19, 2014 

— St. Louis Blues goaltender Ryan Miller stopped the final 35 shots he saw Thursday and held the Chicago Blackhawks scoreless for just over 82 minutes to close out a 4-3 triple-overtime victory in the playoff opener.

However, the biggest save of Game 1 may have been by Blues center Maxim Lapierre.

Shoved toward the net by Chicago's Brandon Saad late in the first overtime, Lapierre found himself behind Miller. Lapierre managed to get his leg on a shot by the Blackhawks' Kris Versteeg that seemed destined to end the game.

"I fell down, but I was at the right place at the right moment, I guess," Lapierre said. "Every guy takes pride in blocking shots in the playoffs and everybody's going to do a big play like that once in a while."

Lapierre downplayed his contribution while pointing to what others did, particularly Miller and his 39 saves.

"Everybody's trying to block shots in the playoffs," he said. "Millsie made so many big saves during the game that sometimes you've got to make a play like that for a guy that gives everything for your team."

It was the type of play that may have been overlooked by some, but not by Blues captain David Backes.

"It's game over if he's not back there," Backes said. "And the other question is what the heck's he doing back there?

"It's the right place at the right time, he makes the save and we continue to fight another day and end up a couple overtimes later finding our own chance and burying it."

Miller was happy to let someone else make a stop since it helped lead to a Blues victory.

"Lappy bailed me out, I got caught following (Jonathan) Toews on the first play," Miller said. "He was right there to make a save, that's how these kind of games go. You get lucky in a few situations and then you've got to battle through the rest.

"It was just nice to come out at the end of this with a win."

Versteeg had trouble believing that his shot didn't reach the net.

"That was a bit of a late bedtime because you do think about 'what ifs,''' Versteeg said Friday. "You do try to block them out, though. It was a great pass and the shot was going in and unfortunately it did hit him and it came out kind of funny, too."

Quenneville fined

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was fined $25,000 by the NHL for "inappropriate conduct" for an obscene gesture he made Thursday during the second overtime of his team's loss in Game 1.

"I was definitely excited," said Quenneville, who demonstrated his displeasure with a gesture after the Blackhawks --already on a power play -- felt the Blues should have been penalized for delay of game when a puck was cleared into the stands. "Disappointed with the call, but I apologize for my behavior. It wasn't very appropriate at all. It was a bush-league move on my part."

The Blues won the game 4-3 on Alexander Steen's goal in the third overtime.

Asked Friday about Quenneville's actions, Hitchcock wouldn't take the bait.

"Yes, I saw what Joel did," Hitchcock said. "I'm not commenting on what Joel did. I saw it, but I'm not commenting. It would be inappropriate."

Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp liked the idea that Quenneville, a former NHL defenseman, was battling right along with his players.

"Joel's a passionate coach and he's intense on the bench," Sharp said Friday. "I think sometimes he wants to get his skates on and go out there and play with us."

Oshie to return?

Blues winger T.J. Oshie was pushed hard again during Friday's optional workout.

Oshie sat out Game 1 with an upper-body injury and his teammates would like to get him back as soon as possible.

"He's a horse for us, an Energizer bunny that never stops," Blues captain David Backes said of Oshie, who had 21 goals and 60 points this season playing primarily with Backes and Steen on the top line. "You talk about fatigue, he's a guy that would have a few days of rest (going) into a series which has a lot guys that have played some big minutes in the last 36 hours, so it'll be hopefully a jolt to the arm if he's in.

"If not, we've proven that we can win if he's not in the lineup. We'll have to have the same sort of performance again."

Hitchcock wasn't as optimistic.

"Until someone taps me on the shoulder and says he's a game player, he's out," Hitchcock said. "Our lineup's going to be fluid every day."

Blues center Patrik Berglund also was on the ice for the Friday workout, but is believed to be further away from returning than Oshie.

Hitchcock said Bouwmeester, who missed much of the first two overtime periods in Game 1 with dehydration, would return for Game 2.

Contact reporter Norm Sanders at 239-2454, or follow him on Twitter: @NormSanders

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