Leafs top Red Wings at snowy Winter Classic before largest-ever hockey crowd
By Larry Lage ,AP
January 3, 2014, 12:02 am TWN
ANN ARBOR, Michigan -- Tyler Bozak scored the winning shootout goal and Jonathan Bernier made two saves in the heart-pounding final moments, lifting the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 3-2 victory over Detroit at the snowy Winter Classic in front of the largest crowd to watch a hockey game.
The announced attendance Wednesday of 105,591 surpassed the 104,173 who watched the University of Michigan and Michigan State University play a college hockey game in the same football stadium known as the Big House in Ann Arbor in 2010.
The game began with the temperature at minus 10 Celsius and a steady snow that didn't stop on a windy afternoon. It was the sixth installment in the Winter Classic series — an annual regular-season game between NHL clubs played outdoors.
Because of the weather, however, this one felt more like an event than an actual game.
Detroit captain Henrik Zetterberg appeared to have good chance in overtime with the puck in the Maple Leafs' end and defenseman Cody Franson on his left side. The horn, however, sounded to stop play at the 2:30 mark of the extra period so the teams could switch sides, ensuring both played into a 16 kph wind for an equal amount of time.
“I think I would have had a clear breakaway,” Zetterberg said.
The game also was halted midway through the third period so that the teams could switch ends. In the shootout, skaters for both teams attempted shots with the wind in their face toward the same net — or end zone.
After skaters with shovels cleared the snow from the ice, Pavel Datsyuk scored Detroit's only goal in the shootout and teammate Tomas Tatar was foiled on his team's third and final attempt because he couldn't control the puck on the snow-covered surface and didn't even get a shot off.
“The conditions made it so some of the skill in the game was eliminated,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said.
The struggling yet storied hockey franchises did their best to put on a show in the snow.
“I don't know if you would call it a gem from a pace standpoint,” Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said. “There was a lot of snow and a lot of things to deal with.”
Joffrey Lupul, who might face discipline from the NHL for a cross-check that knocked Patrick Eaves out of the game in the first period, scored the first of two goals for the Maple Leafs in the shootout.
Bernier, with a knit hat over his helmet, made 41 saves — the most in an outdoor regular-season game.
In Wednesday's only other NHL game, the Tampa Bay Lightning got just its second win in Vancouver in the 21-year history of the club, beating the Canucks 4-2.
Valtteri Filppula had a goal and an assist for the Lightning, which also posted its fourth straight road win this season.
Tampa Bay's Ben Bishop made 28 saves for his 21st win of the season as the Lightning outshot the Canucks 33-30.