SUN Hockey Pool

McCarty given warm welcome

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 11:06 AM ET

DETROIT -- Not much happiness for the homecoming.

Long-time Red Wings favourite Darren McCarty was hoping for a rout on his return to the Joe Louis Arena in his first trip back as a member of the Calgary Flames. Only problem is, it was his old team laying on the beating.

"That's a good team over there, we all knew that. We were in the (penalty) box the whole first period," McCarty said. "It's disappointing."

There was plenty of anticipation throughout the venerable old rink, with an extremely noticeable amount of Winged Wheel sweaters emblazoned with 'McCarty 25' ready to honour the right winger, who spent 11 seasons with the team and was part of three Stanley Cup crowns.

Among the signs to greet the man who scored the Cup-winning goal of 1997 were ones that read: "D-Mac, we miss you!" and "Glad you're back."

The love built from there.

The applause was noticeable from the Wings faithful when McCarty took the ice -- the last Flame to do so -- for the pre-game warmup.

After tossing handfuls of pucks to the crowd, a tradition he established while with the Wings, McCarty left the ice -- again last among the Flames -- to an even bigger cheer.

If that's not enough, the roar when he was announced as part of the starting lineup exceeded anything handed out for any of the Wings.

The support from the crowd was greatly appreciated by McCarty.

"It was weird coming out of the gate and going right instead of left," McCarty said.

"It was great, though. There were a lot of fans out with shirts. What can I say? It meant a lot but I'm glad it's over."

After the puck dropped, the first chance for Wings fans to cheer for their old fave, the only chance, came with seven minutes left in the opening period, when he drilled former fellow Grind Liner Kirk Maltby.

"I told him if I didn't get him, he would get me," McCarty joked. "It'll be ongoing for the rest of our careers, I'm sure."

SAUVE DEBUTS: Backup goalie Philippe Sauve saw his first action as a Flame with a mop-up duty third period.

He stopped three of four shots -- the only blemish, a Pavel Datsyuk goal.

"Those aren't the circumstances you want to go in on," Sauve said. "At least it's out of the way."

Starting netminder Miikka Kiprusoff was in no better spirits after the game.

Kiprusoff was yanked after the second period, the victim of five goals on 36 shots.

Sauve could feel his fellow goalie's pain.

"He was standing on his head out there and we took too many penalties," Sauve said.


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