SUN Hockey Pool

Savouring a fine grind

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:06 AM ET

For a true grinder, it was a near-perfect performance.

Turn the tide once using a little moxie and muscle. And then do it a second time with a perfect pass to set up a game-winner.

What Darren McCarty can offer the Calgary Flames was on full display in yesterday's 3-2 matinee victory over the visiting Chicago Blackhawks.

In the first period, with his side looking listless and down by a goal, he inspired his teammates by slapping around Matthew Barnaby.

Despite the handful of punches McCarty threw, it only goes down as a four-minute roughing infraction, much to his chagrin.

"It wasn't even a fight. I didn't even get five (minutes). That's B.S.," McCarty said, dismayed he didn't receive a major.

"Part of my game is to get a spark at different times and be smart about it.

"I tried to finish him along the boards and he didn't really like that -- it's nothing new, we've had words all the time -- and it was something to try to wake the guys up. The 1 o'clock games, it takes some time to get going. Sometimes you have to swing the momentum any way you can, whether it's a big check, a blocked shot, a goal or whatever. I was hoping that would do it."

Soon after, Jarome Iginla put the Flames on the board, so consider that one mission accomplished.

But McCarty wasn't done.

Although he'll never be mistaken for the fastest man on earth, he outraced Jassen Cullimore for a loose puck in the corner, fought off the Blackhawks defenceman and then sent -- from his knees -- the puck to Matthew Lombardi, who neatly deposited it in the net for the winner.

"It was a really good chip, so I could get into a foot race," McCarty said.

"Not that I'm going to win too many foot races but I was able to get to the puck.

"As I was falling down, I saw Rhino (Steve Reinprecht) but I also had a quick look and saw Lombo all alone. You try things like that all the time -- just put it in a spot and hope it works out -- and he got it alone and did the rest of the work.

"I think the move was nicer than the pass."

While the Blackhawks appeared caught off guard by the turn of events, Lombardi wasn't surprised in the least to see McCarty accomplish so much thanks to sheer determination.

"From him, no. That's his game," Lombardi said. "He got first down there for the puck, battled it and one-handed it to me.

"That was a great play by him."

McCarty heads into a few days off feeling good about his game.

"The win's the most important," McCarty said. "But when you can chip in offensively and maybe get into the physical department, at times that (is important)."


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