Marco Sturm’s goal at 1:57 of overtime lifted Boston to a 2-1 victory over Philadelphia on Friday in the NHL Winter Classic — the outdoor game that has found a New Year’s Day niche.
The Bruins became the first home team to win in the three-year history of the event — first conceived as a tribute to the game’s pond hockey roots.
Pittsburgh won the inaugural Classic at the Buffalo Bills Ralph Wilson Stadium and Detroit defeated Chicago last season at Wrigley Field, home of Major League Baseball’s Cubs.
This year saw the game at another storied baseball ground — Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox since 1912 — where Sturm delivered the ice hockey equivalent of a walk-off home run.
A near perfect day, with temperatures above freezing and overcast but dry skies, greeted the teams as they left their dugouts in front of a crowd of 38,112.
“The good Lord couldn’t have done better for us right now,” said NHL ice maestro Dan Craig, who was given the tricky task of maintaining optimum ice conditions in changeable outdoor weather.
Mark Recchi’s power-play goal for Boston with 2:18 to play knotted the score at 1-1 to force overtime.
Recchi redirected a Derek Morris centering pass — with Kimmo Timonen in the box for tripping — to send the Winter Classic to overtime for the second time in three editions.
Journeyman defenseman Danny Syvret had put the Flyers up 1-0 at 4:42 of the second period when his point shot got past Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas.
It was Syvret’s first NHL goal in 44 NHL games spread through parts of four seasons. Syvret started this season with the Flyers, was demoted then re-inserted into the lineup three games ago when Ryan Parent went out of the lineup with a lower-body injury.
In addition to the on-ice drama, plenty of pageantry marked the holiday game, with tributes to the 1960 and 1980 US Olympic hockey teams, appearances by former Boston star player Bobby Orr and Flyers legend Bobby Clarke and a pre-game flyover by a B-2 Spirit stealth bomber.
SABRES 4, THRASHERS 3, OT
At Buffalo, New York, a crazy bounce off the glass allowed Derek Roy to score into an unattended net 4:02 into overtime, as Buffalo overcame a three-goal deficit for the second straight outing to beat Atlanta.
Jochen Hecht had two goals and an assist, Tim Connolly had a goal and assist.
Buffalo were coming off a 4-3 win over Pittsburgh on Tuesday in which they also rallied for victory from a 3-0 deficit.
Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer is buying the Forum for US$400 million, ending the billionaire’s legal fight with Madison Square Garden Co (MSG) and clearing the way to build a new arena for his NBA team down the street in Inglewood, California. Ballmer on Tuesday announced his cash purchase of the venerated arena. Ballmer, a former Microsoft executive, and Clippers vice chairman Dennis Wong are making the transaction through CAPSS LLC, a newly formed entity that would continue to operate the Forum as a live music venue. “This is an unprecedented time, but we believe in our collective future,” Ballmer said.
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