Blackhawks make the first move in series with Blues

Friday, April 19, 2002

ST. LOUIS -- Offense from untapped sources gave the Chicago Blackhawks a good start to the playoffs.

Alexander Karpovtsev, who had one goal in the regular season, scored with 3:10 to go for a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues in the opening game of their first round Western Conference playoff series Thursday night. Kyle Calder, who didn't score in the last 23 regular-season games, also scored for Chicago.

"You take all the 50-goal scorers and all the trophies and everything else out," coach Brian Sutter said. "It doesn't matter. We all start out even."

Karpovtsev, a defenseman, had scored his lone regular-season goal on Oct. 11 against the Coyotes, and missed the last seven games after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery April 3. He scored his fourth career playoff goal off a cross-ice feed from Michael Nylander and had plenty of room to skate to the top of the left circle before firing a high wrist shot past Brent Johnson.

Teammate Tom Fitzgerald may have distracted Johnson by waving his stick at the puck in front of the net.

"I saw the goalie was too deep in the net and he wasn't ready for the shot," Karpovtsev said. "He tried to make himself bigger in the net and I shot between his arm and his body through the big hole. So I'm lucky."

Johnson blamed himself.

"I think I could done two things to prevent both goals," Johnson said. "I could have prevented it by just going down to the butterfly."

Nylander nearly set up the Blackhawks for the go-ahead goal with about 6:30 to go, feeding Eric Daze for a one-timer from point-blank range. But Johnson slid across the crease to make the save in a play that was reviewed at the next stoppage.

Game 2 is Saturday in St. Louis.

The Blackhawks, in the playoffs for the first time in five years, were 3-1-1 against the Blues in the regular season and won Game 1 despite being outshot 35-21.

Pavol Demitra scored in the second period for the Blues, who overtook the Blackhawks for fourth place in the Western Conference and earned home-ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs with an 8-2 finish.

"We didn't have the same jump in our game that we saw the last 10 games," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I don't know if we were fatigued or what, but we didn't have that same puck presence."

The Blackhawks struggled to the finish line, going 2-4-1.

Jocelyn Thibault, a game-day decision in goal for the Blackhawks over Steve Passmore, had a strong game. The Blues took 15 shots in the second period.

"As many shots as you can get, it's awesome, especially on a night where you feel the puck pretty good and you feel confident," Thibault said. "I thought we did a very good job of letting me see the puck from the blue line."

The Blues opened the second period with a six-shot flurry, and took the lead when Demitra redirected a slap shot from the point by Chris Pronger on a power play at 1:34. It was the third shot during the man advantage for St. Louis after the Blackhawks were whistled for too many men on the ice.

Calder tied it on the game's next shot at 2:42, only Chicago's sixth of the game, putting a backhander into an empty net after Johnson went down early on a wrist shot from the point by Jon Klemm.

"It's been a while since I scored, but I never let it bother me," Calder said. "I'm going to work hard every night."

Notes: Calder, who had a career-best 17 goals during the regular season, got his first since Feb. 9. ... Blues rookie D Mike Van Ryn was a healthy scratch for the first time since Dec. 18, a reflection of Quenneville's reliance on veterans for the playoffs. Van Ryn missed the season finale with a minor injury. ... The Blackhawks scratched LW Bob Probert, who led the team with 176 penalty minutes, for the 11th time in 12 games. ... National Anthem singer Charles Glenn had a false start because his microphone was turned off.

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