The warm welcome back lasted all of 10 seconds.
The horror seemed to last forever.
Dead before Paul Lorieau finished his anthem, the Edmonton Oilers began the first day of the rest of their season by getting lit up so badly by the Buffalo Sabres there should have been presents under their butts.
"It started early and kept on coming -- three periods of it," sighed head coach Craig MacTavish after an ignominious 10-2 shellacking that tied the franchise record for goals allowed on home ice.
"We were just chasing our tails all night."
When those tails weren't being kicked, of course.
This one started out worse than the morning after a bachelor party -- 2-0 after 71 seconds -- and before long the ice surface at Rexall Place looked like one big porcelain bowl.
"They're a team that doesn't let up, no matter what the score is," said defenceman Tom Gilbert. "They were making plays all night and we were exposed in every aspect of the game."
And if the Oilers thought their understanding fans would hold their hair back as they heaved up the last of their pre-break momentum, they were dead wrong.
The crowd jeered Dwayne Roloson's saves -- the few saves there were to jeer -- booed the dumbstruck home boys at every turn, cheered Buffalo's eighth and ninth goals and the few who stuck around after the 50-50 number was announced were actually chanting "We want 10!"
"Not a good feeling," said defenceman Steve Staios. "Once it started going the other way, every single thing they touched seemed to go in the net. There's no way you can sugarcoat how tough a night it was."
The Sabres hit double digits on a shorthanded goal (you just knew it would be shorthanded) at 18:45. The place went nuts.
"It gets embarrassing when it gets to 10 goals," said Gilbert. "We just want to forget this one as quickly as possible."
It was bad all around, but nowhere worse than in goal.
When the shots are 27-26 and you're losing 7-1, it's safe to say the netminding was a little suspect.
Roloson gave up two goals on his first three shots -- one at the 10-second mark, the other at 1:11 -- before getting the hook after Buffalo's third shot of the game beat him at 10:17.
Backup goalie Jeff Deslauriers, making his first NHL appearance since Nov. 30, didn't fare much better, allowing four second-period goals on 14 shots.
"It's not a game you're going to blame on your goaltender," said MacTavish.
"They were like everybody else. When you lose 10-2 you're all painted by the same brush."
Nothing went right. When Edmonton finally did score (Erik Cole at 13:23), Buffalo got it back less than a minute later, then added two more to make it 7-1 after 40 minutes.
Three more goals in the third period put it out of reach.
"Once were were losing 4-1 it started rolling downhill pretty fast," said Andrew Cogliano. "You try to play a simple game and they still find breakdowns and start making even better plays than they were before."
Rather than bore you with all of Buffalo's offence, here are the Sabres who DIDN'T get any points: Toni Lydman, Marc Gragnani, Daniel Paille, Adam Mair, Chris Butler and Matt Ellis.
Incredibly, had Buffalo not reached 10, it would have only tied the Oilers' worst home-ice defeat this season. Chicago dusted them 9-2 on Dec. 16.
"We didn't think this could happen to us again," said Staios. "Especially the way we've been playing of late."