EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) _ Edmonton's favorite adopted son _ Wayne Gretzky _ returned to the scene of his greatest triumphs Tuesday night and was greeted by more than 17,000 screaming, towel-waving Oilers fans.

Gretzky, who won four Stanley Cups with the Oilers in the 1980s, dropped the ceremonial first puck prior to the start of the Dallas-Edmonton playoff game.

It was his first return to Skyreach Centre since he retired earlier this month.

His appearance was kept a secret until he walked to center ice to a thunderous standing ovation. Players from both teams pounded their sticks on the ice in tribute to No. 99.

Dressed in a black suit, white shirt and gold tie, Gretzky dropped the puck between Oilers captain Kelly Buchberger and the Stars' Joe Nieuwendyk.

He waved to the crowd as they chanted ``Gretzky, Gretzky!'' Dallas stars Mike Modano and Brett Hull came over to shake his hand.

Then with a final wave, Gretzky walked off. He was on the ice for all of two minutes. The standing ovation followed him back through the tunnel but the man who has always said he doesn't want to be bigger than the game didn't return for an encore.