McCarty's hat trick his first goals of playoffs


DETROIT (AP) -- On a team bursting at the seams with stars, a
gritty grinder stole the show.

Darren McCarty scored three goals, all in the third period, as
the Detroit Red Wings beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-3 on Saturday in
Game 1 of the Western Conference finals.

"I guess when you only score five during the regular season and
haven't scored any in the playoffs, you're due," McCarty said
before dozens of reporters in a conference room. "I've always
heard about this room, I've just never been it. It's nice. Thanks
for having me."

McCarty's only other career hat trick didn't really count
because it came in an exhibition game against Toronto two years
ago. He's never scored more than three goals in one postseason, or
20 goals in a regular season.

Despite his meager numbers, Hockeytown will always adore the
winger for his charisma and his series-winning goal in the 1997
Stanley Cup.

McCarty's rugged style provides a needed contrast on a team full
of stars oozing with talent.

"We've got the ten or eleven Hall of Fame guys that get it done
each night, but when they don't get it done, we have different guys
to step up," McCarty said. "Tonight was my night. It's about
time, but it's one game.

"I'll cherish this for a couple days."

McCarty's teammates may joke about his day in the spotlight
longer, however.

"I have a better chance of winning the lottery than he does of
getting a hat trick," Red Wings captain Steve Yzerman said.

Detroit, which has won nine of its last 10 games, will play host
to the defending Stanley Cup champion Avalanche again in Game 2 on

The Red Wings don't think they will face a shaken team.

"They don't get rattled," McCarty said.

McCarty put the Red Wings ahead 3-2 -- giving them their first
lead -- early in the third. He provided a two-goal cushion midway
through the period, then padded the lead with 4:05 left. He was
promptly showered with hats.

Red Wings goaltender Dominik Hasek, who is 5-0 in his last five
games at home, stopped 24 shots. Patrick Roy made 25 saves in the
much-anticipated meeting of two of the game's best goalies.

Colorado got off to a good start despite being pushed to seven
games by San Jose in the conference semifinals. Detroit had a week
to rest after eliminating St. Louis in five.

Colorado's Joe Sakic and Milan Hejduk gave the Avalanche 1-0 and
2-1 leads in the first and second period, but Detroit's Tomas
Holmstrom and Brett Hull each answered with a goal toward the end
of each period to tie the game.

McCarty's go-ahead goal was scored just above Roy's glove on a
wrist shot from between the circles.

In keeping with playoff tradition in Detroit, octopi were thrown
onto the ice.

"That first goal got the crowd going, got the Wings going,"
Colorado coach Bob Hartley said.

Other traditions were not repeated in this fierce rivalry -- no
punches and no blood. With 19 seconds left, sticks were dropped and
there was some shoving, but a brawl didn't ensue.

This is the fifth time these Western Conference powers have met
in the playoffs since 1996.

The Avalanche have won three of those series, including the last
two, in 1999 and 2000. The only time Detroit eliminated the
Avalanche was in 1997 en route to its first of two straight Stanley

These teams have combined to win four of the last six Stanley
Cups -- Colorado last year and in 1996 and Detroit in 1997 and '98.

McCarty beat Roy's glove with his second goal on a slap shot
from the right circle, and then lifted a shot over the sprawling
goalie off a rebound for the third goal.

"Those were great shots," Detroit's Brendan Shanahan said.
"they weren't three garbage goals."

Alex Tanguay cut the Avalanche's deficit to 5-3 with 2:00 left,
but they couldn't get closer.

Colorado's Peter Forsberg, the leading scorer in the playoffs
with 19 points, saw his eight game point streak end.

Game notes
The start of the game was delayed by about five minutes
because one-third of the ice was too dim, due to a power outage.
... Sakic, who scored Colorado's first power-play goal since Game 3
of its series with San Jose, has eight goals in the playoffs. ...
Detroit's Igor Larionov missed his third straight game with a knee
injury. ... Colorado's streak of four straight appearances in the
conference finals is the best in the NHL since the New York
Islanders advanced to six consecutive from 1979-84.