DETROIT — 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, Saturday in Game One 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.
"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 Two on Monday.
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.