PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) – The Winter Classic was delayed due to rain, but once the puck dropped on hockey’s biggest regular season stage, it was the Washington Capitals that skated away with two points.
Rain forced the game to be delayed from its original start time of 1 p.m. until 8 p.m. Being played under the lights at Heinz Field in primetime made for an electric atmosphere.
The game was billed as a showdown between Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby, but neither player made an impact on the scoreboard.
Instead, it was Eric Fehr who scored two goals two power the Caps to a 3-1 win.
After a scoreless first period in which the two teams adjusted to playing outdoors at night – many never had at any organized level – and the choppy ice, the Penguins took a 1-0 lead.
Marc-Andre Fleury stoned Ovechkin on a wrist shot in the slot. Kris Letang picked up the puck and found Evgeni Malkin streaking behind the defense.
Malkin took the pass off the boards and beat Varlamov between the legs at 2:15.
Just over four minutes later, the Capitals tied the game on the power play.
The Pens were unable to get their sticks on a loose puck in the crease before Mike Knuble pushed it under Fleury.
The Caps took the lead for good after receiving a gift.
Fleury went behind the net to play the puck, but lost control of it. Marcus Johansson fed Fehr, who buried the puck into the empty net.
The Penguins appeared to have tied the game late in the second period, but it was immediately called back.
Semyon Varlamov took a bump from Mike Rupp, who was crashing the net. The puck trickled across the line, but it was disallowed due to goaltender interference.
Early in the third period, Malkin had a chance to tie the game, but rang his backhand shot off the post.
Fehr sealed the deal with a breakaway goal at 11:59 of the third period.
The ice was unpredictable, perhaps because of the 50-degree gametime temperature – the warmest yet – and the moist air. Ovechkin was a victim of the ice, tumbling onto his stomach while winding up a shot from the blue line with about three minutes remaining in a scoreless first period.
The fourth Winter Classic became the first played at night, and the first in rain. There was a mist at times during the first two periods that became steady rain throughout the third, when the ice maintained a like-new look as if it was constantly being resurfaced by a Zamboni. There also was a trail behind the puck on any shot or pass.
Penguins forward Jordan Staal, out all season with an infected right foot and a broken right hand, played his first game in nearly eight months. He showed a lot of jump early, but didn’t figure in the scoring.