Teammate: Darren McCarty would be tossed from Wings-Avs’ ‘Fight Night’ in today’s NHL

Detroit Free Press

The game wouldn’t have been as memorable if the result didn’t live up to the action.

The Detroit Red Wings beat the Colorado Avalanche handily on March 26, 1997, first with their gloves off and then, in overtime, with their gloves on in a game that has become an integral part of franchise history.

WHAT A MOMENT!: Red Wings’ ‘Fight Night’ vs. Avalanche on March 26, 1997, remains an ‘incredible night’

Darren McCarty was the hero twice over that night at Joe Louis Arena: First, when he pummeled archvillain Claude Lemieux in retaliation for Lemieux’s hit in the 1996 Western Conference finals that sent Kris Draper to hospital with multiple severe facial injuries. The second was when McCarty scored in overtime, slapping the puck past Patrick Roy 39 seconds into the extra period.

Teammate-turned-Wings scout Kirk Maltby, reminiscing this week ahead of the game’s 25th anniversary, laughed when he brought up the winning goal, which Brendan Shanahan set up. Shanahan had thrown a flying bodycheck when he intercepted Patrick Roy’s attempt to come to Lemieux’s aid late in the first period.

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“Mac scores in overtime, where in today’s game, he’d probably have been kicked out and gotten a 20-game suspension,” Maltby told the Free Press this week. “I think it’s safe to say, between Mac and Shanny being in that melee, they’d probably have been kicked out and Mac would have been suspended after that. It’s funny how the game has evolved.”

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McCarty pummeled Lemieux late in the first period, and was assessed two roughing penalties by referee Paul Devorski. McCarty was assessed a minor for roughing and major for fighting Adam Deadmarsh in the second period. Shanahan wasn’t assessed a penalty for leaping at Roy, but did get five minutes for fighting Adam Foote in the second period.

The final blow came when McCarty scored in overtime, and the Wings won, 6-5.

“It was a big win for morale,” Maltby said. “It was just a great night, like a special event.”

Contact Helene St. James at Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from AmazonBarnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail. 

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