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McCarty #25


McCarty socks it to Avs
By Robert Picarello | | May 30, 2002

Darren McCarty is a player Avalanche fans love to hate. Their relationship started way back in 1996 when the Detroit forward and pesky Claude Lemieux, then with the Avs, used to do their best impressions of Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots on the ice.

But nowadays, McCarty likes to beat the Avs in other ways. The winger has proven to be a timely goal-scorer against the Wings' Western Conference rivals, especially in this important series. He single-handedly beat Colorado in Game 1 of the series when he scored three goals in the third period to help lead his team to victory.

McCarty's three tallies were not only his first goals of the 2002 playoffs, they also came in the form of a natural hat trick. The three-goal explosion helped blow open the game, which was tied at two entering the final session.

"It's a wonderful effort from a guy who gives his all every game," Detroit coach Scotty Bowman said.

The rugged McCarty also came through for his team when the season was on the line in Game 6, netting an insurance goal that forced a winner-take-all Game 7. The tally was also the seventh of his career against Patrick Roy.

With just under seven minutes left in the second period, the right-handed McCarty broke in with Kirk Maltby on an odd-man rush and blasted a slapshot from the left faceoff circle that beat Roy on the short side to give his team a 2-0 lead.

"I knew it was a 2-on-1," McCarty said. "I looked at Malts and the 'D' sort of cheated the pass. I looked up at the net and, I think, looked far side first and really didn't see anything. I just wanted to shoot as hard as I could, off the ice on the short side. I had a little bit of room and I was lucky enough that it went where I wanted. It was nice to be able to chip in, but it was nice to have a two-goal lead going into the third."

It's also nice that he helped get his team one step closer to playing for a championship.

"It is just one hockey game," McCarty told the Denver Post. "It is a game you have to win. It is like football, NCAA basketball. It is one game, single elimination. There are no excuses. You must win."

You must also be lucky in a Game 7 and judging by the way McCarty's been scoring and playing, the Wings have a good shot at taking the deciding contest with the Avalanche killer on their side.

"Somebody must be smiling on me," said McCarty, who like Colorado's Joe Sakic hails from the Vancouver suburb of Burnaby, British Columbia. "There are times when I slap at (the puck), and it doesn't get anywhere near the goal. This time it went in. I can't explain it. I don't want to try."

An in-tight scorer, McCarty most often stays with the power game that suits his skill set. A great sense of balance and strength on his skates leaves him impervious to attempts to knock him off the puck. McCarty has emerged as one of Detroit's most vocal leaders and is loved by Wings fans for the emotion he brings to the game. He was a key player on Detroit's Stanley Cup wins in 1997, 1998 and 2002. In 2001-02, he notched five goals and seven assists in 62 games for the Red Wings.