On January 2nd, the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins faced off inside Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts for the 2023 NHL Winter Classic – the 14th edition of the game. Boston entered the game as the No. 1 team in the league with a 28-4-4 record, while the Penguins were a respectable 19-11-6.
The score stood still at 0-0 throughout the first period as neither team found the back of the net. That changed roughly nine minutes into the second period when Kasperi Kapanen opened the scoring for the Penguins, giving Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead. Danton Heinen and Jeff Carter were credited with the assists.
The third period belonged to the Bruins – more specifically, Jake DeBrusk of the Bruins, who tied the game 1-1 with a goal eight minutes into the period (assisted by Brad Marchand and Matt Grzelcyk). He then scored the game-winning goal with two minutes left (assisted by Taylor Hall and David Krejci).
Recapping the 16-Year History of the NHL Winter Classic
The Boston Bruins wound up victorious thanks to DeBrusk’s 15th and 16th goals of the season. He, along with teammate Hall, led the game in shots with five each – Marchand added 4 shots on net. Linus Ullmark got the win in net for the Bruins, saving 26 of the 27 shots he faced – a .963 save percentage.
It marked the fourth time the Bruins were featured in the NHL Winter Classic – they’re now 3-1 as they continue to shine in the elements. In fact, no team has been better outdoors. On the other hand, the Penguins have appeared in the NHL Winter Classic three times and have a 1-2 record in the elements.
The NHL Winter Classic has been played 14 times over the past 16 years – dating back to 2008. Only 14 of the 30 NHL teams have appeared in the game, with nine of those teams appearing more than once. With a year until the game is played again, let’s recap the 16-year history of the NHL Winter Classic.
15. Penguins Defeat Sabres in 2008
On January 1, 2008, the Buffalo Sabres hosted the Pittsburgh Penguins for the inaugural NHL Winter Classic at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, NY – home of the Buffalo Bills. There were more than 71,000 fans in attendance, but the visitor Penguins skated away with a narrow 2-1 victory via shootout.
Colby Armstrong opened the scoring for the Penguins and it came just 21 seconds into the game – Sidney Crosby got the assist. The Sabres answered just 1:25 into the second period thanks to a Brian Campbell goal, assisted by Tim Connolly and Daniel Paille. The Penguins went 2/3 in the shootout.
14. Red Wings Defeat Blackhawks in 2009
On January 1, 2009, the Chicago Blackhawks hosted the Detroit Red Wings for the second NHL Winter Classic, this time at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois – home of the Chicago Cubs. There were nearly 41,000 fans in attendance and a total of 10 goals were scored as the Red Wings beat Chicago 6-4.
Chicago came out swinging in the first period, taking a 3-1 lead behind goals from Kris Versteeg, Martin Havlat, and Ben Eager. Detroit bounced back with three unanswered goals in the second period, two of which came from Jiri Hudler. They scored two more goals in the third period just 23 seconds apart.
13. Bruins Defeat Flyers in 2010
On January 1, 2010, the Boston Bruins hosted the Philadelphia Flyers for the third NHL Winter Classic, this time at Fenway Park in Boston Massachusetts – home of the Boston Red Sox and the coveted Green Monster. The game was decided in overtime with the Bruins completing their late comeback in a 2-1 win.
Danny Syvret opened the scoring for the Flyers just five minutes into the second period – his first goal of the season. They held that 1-0 lead for quite a while, but not long enough. Mark Recchi scored his eighth of the season with just two minutes left in the third period. Marco Sturm played hero in the OT period.
12. Capitals Defeat Penguins in 2011
On January 1, 2011, the Pittsburgh Penguins hosted the Washington Capitals for the fourth NHL Winter Classic, this time at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – home of the Pittsburgh Steelers and now called Acrisure Stadium. The Penguins had an early lead in the second period, but the Capitals won 3-1.
It was Evgeni Malkin that opened the scoring for Pittsburgh just two minutes into the second, but Mike Knuble quickly answered with a powerplay goal just five minutes later. Washington took a 2-1 lead 15 minutes into the second period and scored the dagger 12 minutes into the final period to run away with it.
11. Rangers Defeat Flyers in 2012
On January 2, 2012, the Philadelphia Flyers hosted the New York Rangers for the fifth NHL Winter Classic, this time at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – home of the Philadelphia Phillies. Once again, the home team would play spoiler in what turned out to be a thrilling third period comeback.
The game was scoreless through the first period, but the Flyers scored two goals less than two minutes apart in the second period. The Rangers answered within 30 seconds to bring the deficit to 1-2. They tied the game just 2:41 into the final period and scored the game-winning goal less than three minutes later.
10. Maple Leafs & Red Wings Game Postponed in 2013
On November 1, 2012, the NHL announced that it was postponing the 2013 NHL Winter Classic. It was originally scheduled to be played on January 1, 2013 inside Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. With a seating capacity over 100,000, the game was expected to break NHL attendance records.
In canceling the game, the NHL vowed to reschedule it the following year – which it did. The league cited a lack of a new labor deal as the primary reason for canceling, which resulted in a lockout during the 2012-13 season. It was unfortunate, but it only delayed the excitement that was inevitable from the start.
9. Maple Leafs Defeat Red Wings in 2014
On January 1, 2014, the Detroit Red Wings finally hosted the Toronto Maple Leafs for the sixth NHL Winter Classic, this time at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan – home of the Michigan Wolverines. More than 105,000 fans in the stands, which broke the all-time NHL record for single-game attendance.
The game was scoreless through the first period, but things got interesting towards the end of the second period – Detroit scored 13 minutes in and Toronto answered with 30 seconds left. They again traded goals in the third period, sending the game to overtime and eventually a shootout – where Toronto won it.
8. Capitals Defeat Blackhawks in 2015
On January 1, 2015, the Washington Capitals hosted the Chicago Blackhawks for the seventh NHL Winter Classic, this time at Nationals Park in Washington, DC – the home of the Washington Nationals of the MLB. Unlike in years prior, the home team walked away victorious thanks to a late game-winning goal.
Washington opened the game with a 2-0 lead after just 12 minutes, but the Blackhawks answered with a powerplay goal less than two minutes later. Chicago scored another goal three minutes into the second period, but it was Troy Brouwer’s PP goal with 13 seconds left in the game that gave Washington the win.
7. Canadiens Defeat Bruins in 2016
On January 1, 2016, the Boston Bruins hosted the Montreal Canadiens for the eighth NHL Winter Classic, this time inside Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts – home of the New England Patriots of the NFL. More than 67,000 fans were in attendance to watch their beloved Bruins get stomped 5-1.
Montreal got off to a fast start, scoring the first goal just over one minute into the game. They scored two more goals in the second period to take a 3-0 lead. Boston ended the shutout four minutes into the final period, but it wasn’t enough to overcome two more goals by Montreal in the last 11 minutes of play.
6. Blues Defeat Blackhawks in 2017
On January 2, 2017, the St. Louis Blues hosted the Chicago Blackhawks for the ninth NHL Winter Classic, this time at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri – home of the St. Louis Cardinals of the MLB. More than 46,000 fans were in attendance to watch their Blues earn their 20th victory of the season.
With that being said, it was Chicago that opened the scoring just one minute into the game, but they would go scoreless the next 59 minutes of play. Meanwhile, the Blues scored four unanswered goals, two of which came from Vladimir Tarasenko and another was an empty-netter to secure the 4-1 victory.
5. Rangers Defeat Sabres in 2018
On January 1, 2018, the Buffalo Sabres hosted the New York Rangers for the 10th NHL Winter Classic, this time at Citi Field in Queens, New York – home of the New York Mets. Roughly 42,000 fans showed up to watch the Rangers defeat the Bills 3-2 in a thrilling, back-and-forth game that ended in overtime.
The Rangers opened the scoring with two goals in the first nine minutes of play – one from Paul Carey and one from Michael Grabner. The Sabres scored a goal in the second period and another in the third period to tie the game at 2-2 after regulation. J.T. Miller won it for the Rangers nearly 3 minutes into OT.
4. Bruins Defeat Blackhawks in 2019
On January 1, 2019, the Chicago Blackhawks hosted the Boston Bruins for the 11th NHL Winter Classic, this time at Notre Dame Stadium in Notre Dame, Indiana – home of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. More than 76,000 screaming fans showed up to watch the Bruins win their second of three Winter Classics.
The Blackhawks opened the scoring, but the Bruins answered with a powerplay goal to end the first period 1-1. They again traded blows in the second period to bring the game to 2-2, but it was Boston who scored two goals in the third period – including an empty-netter – to secure the 4-2 comeback victory.
3. Stars Defeat Predators in 2020
On January 1, 2020, the Dallas Stars hosted the Nashville Predators for the 12th NHL Winter Classic, this time at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas – more than 85,500 fans showed up to watch their Stars overcome an early 0-2 deficit, willing their way to a 4-2 win to improve to 23-14-4 on the young season.
It was Matt Duchene and Dante Fabbro who gave the Stars their early lead, but Blake Corneau narrowed that deficit late in the second period. The Stars tied the game just one minute into the third period, took the lead just five minutes into the period, and scored the dagger goal just a minute and a half later.
2. Blues & Wild Game Postponed in 2021
On October 22, 2020, the NHL announced they would be postponing the 2021 NHL Winter Classic. It was originally scheduled to be played on January 1, 2021 between the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota – home of the Minnesota Twins with a capacity of 40,000 people.
The game was being postponed alongside the 2021 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend due to the ‘ongoing uncertainty resulting from the coronavirus.’ At the time, the league intended on having the two teams compete in 2022 – which they did. It was yet another change the NHL had to endure due to COVID-19.
1. Blues Defeat Wild in 2022
On January 1, 2022, the Minnesota Wild hosted the St. Louis Blues for the 13th NHL Winter Classic, this time at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota – home of the Minnesota Twins. More than 38,600 fans were in attendance and 10 total goals were scored, but the Wild were outmatched by the Blues 6-4.
Both teams traded goals in the first period just 25 seconds apart, but it was the Blues that pulled away in the second period – scoring four unanswered goals, including two from Jordan Kyrou. By the end of the period, St. Louis had a 6-2 lead. The Wild scored two unanswered in the third period, but it wasn’t enough.
What’s Next for the NHL Winter Classic?
With the 2023 NHL Winter Classic now history, fans will have to wait a full year before the next one – don’t worry, 2024 is supposed to be an exciting one. The Seattle Kraken are scheduled to host the Vegas Golden Knights inside T-Mobile Park in Seattle, WA – the home of the Seattle Mariners of the MLB.
Both the Kraken and Knights are making their NHL Winter Classic debut. The last time both teams being featured were making their debut was in 2020 when the Predators and Stars faced off. The venue will hold more than 40,000 fans, which will be the largest NHL Winter Classic since that 2020 game in Dallas.
It’ll also mark a return to the New Year’s Day matchup, which was abandoned in 2023 because New Year’s Day fell on a Sunday. We hope you’re excited for what next year’s NHL Winter Classic has in store – two exciting teams, a beautiful backdrop, and a picturesque scene that’ll make for some good hockey!
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