Chicago goalie's big save turning point of Game 1

KEN WIEBE, STAFF REPORTER

, Last Updated: 5:02 AM ET

ROSEMONT, Ill. -- It turns out even Kari Lehtonen thought he was beaten.

When Manitoba Moose winger Alexandre Burrows broke in on a breakaway midway through the game, Lehtonen bit on the fake but still managed to get his left pad on the puck.

That save left the game tied 1-1 and the Chicago Wolves went on to win the opener of the American Hockey League Western Conference final 4-3 on Thursday night.

"I thought he was going to score," said Lehtonen, who finished with 16 saves. "I thought he was going to shoot so I went down. He made a good move and I was kind of lucky to get my leg on it. That was a good time to make a save. We started to play better."

Moose forward Jesse Schultz said the save was important, but it wasn't a defining moment in the game.

"I don't think it was deflating," said Schultz. "It would have been a huge goal for us, but that's what happens. (Lehtonen) is a world-class goalie and he never gives up on the play. Those are the breaks sometimes. Depressing? Not really."

Moose head coach Randy Carlyle downplayed the importance of the save.

"I don't really think that was the turning point," said Carlyle. "In the second period, we stood around and we didn't do enough moving our feet and supporting the puck. We were out of sync."

NO REAL DAMAGE: Wolves captain Steve Maltais left a pool of blood on the ice late in the opener after taking a high stick from Moose defenceman Kevin Bieksa but was back on the ice practising yesterday morning.

The play occurred with the net empty and 43 seconds left in the game. Maltais stole the puck in the Moose zone and Bieksa's stick came up and caught him in the face.

"I think it hit a little vein in his mouth, that's why it bled so much," said Wolves head coach John Anderson. "Those aren't his real teeth anyway. (Bieksa) got a little panicky because the goalie was out. There was a little desperation to prevent a goal."

CUP PREDICTIONS: With the Memorial Cup set to open today, Schultz weighed in with his take on the national Tier I junior hockey championship.

"I have to say Kelowna, they've been looking good so far," said Schultz, who spent two of his four Western Hockey League season with the Kelowna Rockets. "Nobody is giving them a chance, but they'll be alright. They've been there before, they've got experience and they know what it takes to win."

Most of the pre-tournament talk has revolved around Sidney Crosby and the Rimouski Oceanic and the host London Knights, leaving the defending Memorial Cup champion Rockets flying under the radar.

The Knights and Oceanic open up the tournament tonight at the sold out John Labatt Centre in London, Ont.

Schultz went to the Memorial Cup in 2002-03, the first of three consecutive appearances by the Rockets.


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