As we approach the 10th Winter Classic, it’s best that we end this countdown with a countdown. I challenged myself to pick 9 of favorite moments from the 9 previous Winter Classics, but here’s the catch — I can pick only one moment from each game, so that all 9 games can be represented in this countdown. So without further ado, here are my Prime 9 Favorite Winter Classic Moments.
9. 2011: Eric Fehr’s Breakaway on the Allegheny
The 2011 Winter Classic in Pittsburgh was a Saturday night showdown at Heinz Field as Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals took on Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins at the home of the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers. It was a chippy game, but the man that made all the difference that night was Capitals forward Eric Fehr. Halfway through the third period, Fehr capitalized on a breakaway and gave the Caps insurance as they won that night, 3-1.
8: 2016: Mike Condon Goes Clutch
During the 2015-16 season, the Montreal Canadiens had to deal with playing without Carey Price for a majority of the season. Enter Holliston native and Princeton graduate Mike Condon. The first-year pro was between the pipes as Hockey’s greatest rivalry — the Canadiens and the Boston Bruins — was taken outdoors at the House that Tom Brady built — th home of the New England Patriots — Foxborough’s Gillette Stadium. The Habs steamrolled the B’s 5-1, but despite having a two-goal game from Habs teammate Paul Byron, Condon earned first star of the game honors, stopping 27 of 28 shots.
7. 2017: Welcome to the Tarasenk-show
This was a celebration 50 years in the making for St. Louis Blues fans. In the heart of Downtown St. Louis, in the current iteration of Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals, where the Gateway Arch made a perfect backdrop for this clash between teams separated by 300 miles of Interstate 55. The Chicago Blackhawks entered their third Winter Classic appearance 0-2 looking for that elusive win in the NHL’s signature event. But the Blues would have none of it. In the span of 1:53 in the third period, Vladimir Tarasenko scored twice to give the Blues the lead for the rest of the game. A 4-1 win gave the majority of the 46,556 who attended the game a memory that will last a lifetime (or until the Blues finally win the Stanley Cup).
6. 2015: Brouwer Power
At the 2011 NHL Draft, The Chicago Blackhawks traded Troy Brouwer to the Washington Capitals for their first-round draft pick. Brouwer was a power winger that helped the Hawks end their 49-year Stanley Cup Championship drought back in 2010. When the Hawks and the Capitals met in the 2015 Winter Classic at Nationals Park, Brouwer drew a slashing penalty against Brandon Saad in the waning minutes of regulation time. With the game tied 2-2, this was probably the only chance the Capitals had to win the game. On the power play, Alex Ovechkin passed the puck to Brouwer’s stick. As Brouwer shot the puck towards Corey Crawford, his stick broke. Luckily, the shot went past Crawford and into the net, giving the Capitals their second win in Winter Classic, 3-2, in front of 42,832 fans.
5. 2009: Pavel Datsyuk’s Deke in the Wind
The 2009 Winter Classic at Chicago’s Wrigley Field officially affirmed the Classic as an annual New Year’s Day tradition and the NHL’s signature event. The Chicago Blackhawks came out of the gate leading 3-1 after 20 minutes against their long-time rival, the defending Stanley Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings. But the Red Wings took control in the second period, tying the game at 3-3 thanks to two goals by Jiri Hudler. With less than three minutes to go in the second, Pavel Datsyuk was streaking down the ice, much like the ground ball that Kris Bryant threw to Anthony Rizzo to win the World Series 7 years later. Datsyuk deked two Hawks players and scored to give the Red Wings a 4-3 lead; a lead that they would not relinquish for the rest of the afternoon.
4. 2014: The Biggest Game at The Big House
The Detroit Red Wings would get their chance of hosting the Winter Classic in 2013, but thanks to the lockout that shortened the 2012-13 season, their Winter Classic occurred one year later.in front of a NHL-record crowd of 105,491 at The Big House — Michigan Stadium, the place where Fritz Crisler, Fielding Yost, and Bo Schembechler turned Michigan Wolverine football into the powerhouse program it is today, The Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs met in a Original Six showdown in the snow. The game remained close for a majority of the time. The score was 2-2 at the end of regulation time. Overtime solved nothing. The game had to be decided in a shootout. Pavel Datsyuk and Joffrey Lupul each scored in the second round. After Jonathan Bernier stopped Tomas Tatar in the third round, Tyler Bozak had a chance to win the Winter Classic for the Leafs. With the game on his stick, Bozak shot one past Jimmy Howard to give the Leafs the win in the Winter Classic.
3: 2010: Marco Sturm’s Overtime Winner at Fenway
The 2010 Winter Classic at Boston’s Fenway Park was a thriller between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Boston Bruins. It was a Classic of firsts: the first fight at a Winter Classic occurred when Shawn Thornton and Dan Carcillo traded blows. The Flyers’ Danny Syvret scored his first career NHL goal. And in the waning moments of the third period, Mark Recchi tied the game at 1-1. The game would go to overtime, when Marco Sturm deflected in a shot from Patrice Bergeron past Michael Leighton to give the Bruins a 2-1 win in overtime — the only Winter Classic that had an overtime winner (to this point).
2. 2012: Henrik Lundqvist’s Penalty Shot Save
The 2012 Winter Classic was a battle between Broadway and Broad Street as the New York Rangers took on the Philadelphia Flyers at the home of the Philadelphia Phillies, Citizens Bank Park. In the final minute of regulation, the Flyers were trailing 3-2 and had the extra attacker on when playing 4-on-4. During a net-mouth scramble, Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh closed his hand on the puck in the crease to prevent the equalizer from being scored. By rule, the Flyers we’re awarded a penalty shot with 19.6 seconds left to go in the game. Peter Laviolette sent out Daniel Briere to take the Penalty Shot. The shot would ensure either overtime or a Rangers win. Briere shot the puck five-hole, but Henrik Lundqvist made the save of all saves, and preserved the 3-2 win for the Blueshirts.
1. 2008: Sidney Crosby’s Shootout Winner
If Bobby Orr scoring the Stanley Cup-clinching goal in 1970 was considered one of the most iconic images of the NHL pre-2004-05 lockout, Sidney Crosby scoring the shootout winner in the inaugural Winter Classic at Buffalo’s Ralph Wilson Stadium (now called New Eta Field) is considered one of the most iconic image of the NHL post-2004-05 lockout. The 2008 Winter Classic was the first regular-season NHL outdoor game held in the United States, and Buffalo was selected as the host venue because of it’s climate during the winter. Their opponent, the Pittsburgh Penguins, featured THE face of the new NHL. 20-year-old Sidney Crosby was coming off of an amazing sophomore season, where he won the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s leading scorer, the Lester B. Pearson Award and the Hart Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s Most Valuable Player by both the NHL Players Association and the Professional Hockey Writers Association. In the game, the Penguins’ Colby Armstrong scored the first goal 20 seconds into the game. Sabres defenseman Brian Campbell tied the game 90 seconds into the second period. The game would remain deadlocked heading into overtime. The game would eventually be decided in a shootout. Ales Kotalik gave the Sabres the lead after Round 1, but Penguins defenseman Kris Letang tied the shootout in Round 2. After Maxim Afinogenov failed to score in Round 3 of the shootout, Sidney Crosby had a chance to win the inaugural Winter Classic. With snow falling from the sky, Crosby shot the puck five-hole past Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller to give the Penguins the win in the inaugural Winter Classic.
Well, that concludes this year’s countdown to the Winter Classic. I wish everyone a happy, safe, and a memorable 2018. Happy New Year, and we’ll do this again in 2019!