A MOOD OF euphoric exhaustion carried over to the next day after the St. Louis Blues won the longest game in franchise history and got the upper hand against the defending Stanley Cup champions.

Defenseman Alex Pietrangelo says his legs are stiff and it felt as if the Blues played two games to beat the Chicago Blackhawks, 4-3, in triple overtime Thursday night in Game 1 of their opening-round playoff series. But he had a smile on his face.

The game lasted 100 minutes, 36 seconds. The teams combined for 94 shots, loads of great saves by the goalies and one temper tantrum.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville apologized yesterday for his obscene gesture, widely viewed on Twitter, reacting to a call that wasn't made in the first overtime. He was fined $25,000 for inappropriate conduct.

"It wasn't appropriate at all. It was a bush-league move on my part," he said.

Quenneville became quite animated after officials denied an apparent delay-of-game penalty against St. Louis midway through the second overtime. A penalty would have given Chicago a 5-on-3 advantage for 36 seconds. His crotch-grabbing gesture was viewed on national television and replayed liberally throughout social media.

In the minds of many, the St. Louis Blues went from the penthouse to the outhouse in record time as they concluded the regular season mired in a six-game losing streak. After Thursday's win, the Blues look to elevate their standing once again when they host Game 2 this afternoon. Alex Steen scored 26 seconds into the third extra session to end it.

"We needed it for confidence," St. Louis goaltender Ryan Miller said after stopping 39 shots - including all 35 over the final 82:02 of the contest.

"I think we needed it to show that stretch we had to finish the season is behind us."

Patrick Kane and captain Jonathan Toews made triumphant returns for Chicago, as the former scored on a breakaway late in the first period after being set up by latter. The reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner, Kane overcame a left knee injury to play in his first game since March 19, while Toews competed in his initial contest since being leveled by Pittsburgh's Brooks Orpik.

In games last night

* At Boston, Pavel Datsyuk scored the game's only goal, with 3:01 left in regulation and the Detroit Red Wings downed the Bruins, 1-0, in Game 1 of their best-of-seven Eastern Conference series.

Jimmy Howard stopped 25 shots for Detroit, while Tuuka Rask made 23 saves for the Bruins.

* At Tampa Bay, Rene Bourque scored a pair of goals as the Montreal Canadiens took a commanding 2-0 series lead over the Lightning with a 4-1 victory in their Eastern Conference series. Carey Price stopped 26 shots for Montreal, redeeming himself following a less than stellar performance during a 5-4 overtime win in Game 1.