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Detroit's "Classic" Comeback

Thursday, 01.1.2009 / 6:10 PM ET / Recap
Associated Press
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Detroit\'s \"Classic\" Comeback
Chicago Blackhawks' Andrew Ladd, right, battles for the puck with Detroit Red Wings' Andreas Lilja during the second period of the NHL Winter Classic hockey game at Wrigley Field, Thursday, Jan. 1, 2009 in Chicago. The Red Wings dwon 6-4. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
CHICAGO (AP) - The atmosphere was electric. Bundled-up fans got a chance to extend their New Year's Eve parties and watch hockey in a venerable stadium where baseball usually fills the seats.

If the setting was different, the results were the same Thursday. The Detroit Red Wings beat the Chicago Blackhawks again, this time out in the cold at Wrigley Field in the Winter Classic.

Players from both sides agreed on two things following Detroit's 6-4 comeback victory: The weather and the condition of the ice had little or no bearing on the result, and the overall experience was a blast.

"It exceeded my expectations," said Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom, who returned after missing two games with a sore ankle. "I don't think the wind or playing outdoors bothered either team."

Temperature at faceoff on an overcast day was a very bearable 32 degrees, even though a wind blowing at 18 mph made it a bundle-up afternoon for 40,818 fans at the second oldest baseball park in the major leagues.

"Holy Cow. It's Cold," read one sign, using the longtime catch phrase of the late Cubs broadcaster Harry Caray.

Pavel Datsyuk skated through two defenders for a go-ahead score in a three-goal second period, and the Red Wings scored twice in a 17-second span of the third to complete the comeback.

"I kind of had my mouth open in the beginning," said Detroit's Jiri Hudler, who had two goals in the second period to tie the game. "We were all looking at each other during the anthem - 'Wow, this is awesome."'

The teams used the same locker rooms that the Cubs (Blackhawks) and visitors (Red Wings) use during the baseball season. The players trudged on covered skates through tunnels, up and down steps and across a tarp-like carpet to the rink. The Red Wings' coaching staff kept their heads warm with fedoras.

Martin Havlat had a goal and two assists to help the Blackhawks go up 3-1 after one period. But the Red Wings showed why they are the defending Stanley Cup champions, rallying to beat the Blackhawks for the fourth straight time this season and second time in less than 48 hours.

"They are the best team in the world. They are a team that can just take over when they want to," Chicago's Patrick Kane said.

Havlat also said the weather wasn't much of a factor in the disappointing loss. The Red Wings had beaten Chicago 4-0 on Tuesday night in Detroit.

 
Red Wings' Rally Caps Winter Classic Win
Not even a Detroit Red Wing victory could put a damper on the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic 2009 for Blackhawks fans here at Wrigley Field. ...more
Other Links:
- Winter Classic Website
- Game Photo Gallery
- Winter Classic Videos
 
"It was not too bad," he said. "You could feel it on your toes in the skates, but we were moving and it was pretty warm on the benches. "

Brian Rafalski scored on a power play 3:07 into the third period for a 5-3 lead. Seventeen seconds later, Brett Lebda's shot from between the circles appeared to go over Huet, but officials needed a video review to determine that it was a goal. After it was ruled good, Huet was pulled for Nikolai Khabibulin.

Video screens in right and left fields were set up to help fans who couldn't follow the puck from the lower seats. Most didn't necessarily need them - they stood up behind the two dugouts to see over the boards. And stay warm at the same time.

Even though most of the snow in Chicago had melted last week, the entire field was covered by the white stuff - some of it compliments of a snowmaking machine.

"It was a cool feeling seeing 45,000 fans screaming and yelling," Kane said. "The atmosphere was really unreal."

Detroit goaltender Ty Conklin played in his third outdoor NHL game. He was the winner last year in the initial Winter Classic when the Penguins beat the Sabres 2-1 in a shootout at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y., before an NHL-record 71,217 fans.

He was also in net for the Oilers when they faced Montreal in 2003 before 57,167 fans outdoors in Edmonton.

"I count myself very lucky. There's not a guy in this league who wouldn't like to play in these games," Conklin said. "I've had the opportunity to play in three of them."

The game Thursday was halted momentarily in the first period for minor ice repair that took less than a minute to complete. But there appeared to be no major problems with the surface, part of a two-week long project to turn a baseball park into a hockey venue.

"I think the weather conditions were ideal. The ice was really good. It was probably better than it is in some of our rinks," commissioner Gary Bettman said, adding he doesn't have a location right now for next year's Winter Classic.

If a player happened to step out the back of the penalty box, he would nearly land on the far side of the pitcher's mound. The goals ran from the first base line to the third base line.

The ancient scoreboard at Wrigley Field - which is still hand operated for many of the baseball operations - featured the day's matchup of NHL games. There was also a temporary scoreboard below the big one, set up just for hockey.

Several Red Wings, including Conklin, entertained fans in the concourse about 90 minutes before the game by kicking and heading a soccer ball to each other.

Dan Cleary, whose hard check in Tuesday night's game at Detroit caused a leg injury to Blackhawks star Kane, was driven into the Chicago bench early in the game on a hit from Brent Seabrook.

Kris Versteeg scored on a power play rebound to give the Hawks an early 1-0 lead.

Detroit evened it as a power play was winding down when Henrik Zetterberg went behind the net and fed Mikael Samuelsson. But minutes later, on yet another power play, Versteeg made a nice backhanded pass to Havlat, who shot it past Conklin for a 2-1 lead.

Chicago's third goal of the opening period came from Ben Eager with 42 seconds to go. He went behind the goal, withstood a hit from Detroit's Andreas Lilja and then reversed his direction before beating Conklin to make it 3-1.

Less than two minutes into the second period, Hudler got a rebound goal, and the Red Wings tied it when Hudler scored again on a rebound one second after a power play for Detroit ended.

Notes: Involved in pre-game ceremonies were former Cubs Ferguson Jenkins, Ryne Sandberg and Billy Williams, along with ex-Blackhawks Bobby Hull, Denis Savard, Stan Mikita and Tony Esposito and former Red Wings' star Ted Lindsay. ... Duncan Keith scored the Blackhawks' final goal on a power play with 10 seconds left. ... Detroit had a 43-37 advantage in shots.

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Jagr 79 27 39 23 66
J. Jokinen 81 18 42 25 60
A. Barkov 66 28 31 18 59
J. Huberdeau 76 20 39 17 59
V. Trocheck 76 25 28 15 53
R. Smith 82 25 25 19 50
A. Ekblad 78 15 21 18 36
N. Bjugstad 67 15 19 -8 34
B. Campbell 82 6 25 31 31
B. Pirri 52 11 13 -4 24
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 35 19 6 .922 2.35
A. Montoya 12 7 3 .919 2.18

 
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