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Outdoor game is a success

An NHL-record 71,217 watch the snow fall as Pittsburgh beats Buffalo in a shootout, 2-1.

January 02, 2008|From the Associated Press

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Sidney Crosby's shootout goal will always be frozen in time.

The Penguins captain somehow saw space between Ryan Miller's pads as he shifted through driving snow and gave Pittsburgh a 2-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres at the outdoor Winter Classic in front of an NHL-record 71,217 fans Tuesday.

Crosby won the NHL's second outdoor game -- and first in the United States -- in dramatic fashion at Ralph Wilson Stadium, home to the NFL's Buffalo Bills.

Crosby skated down the middle, eluded a poke check by Miller and put a shot between the goalie's pads on the final round of the shootout.

"Growing up, I played a lot outside," said Crosby, a Nova Scotia native. "The atmosphere and environment, I don't think you can beat that."

Ty Conklin gave up Ales Kotalik's goal to open the tiebreaker before stopping Tim Connolly and Maxim Afinogenov.

Kris Letang also scored for the Penguins, pushing his shootout record to four for four.

Colby Armstrong gave Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead only 21 seconds after the opening faceoff, and Brian Campbell tied the score 1:25 into the second.

Despite both teams' dressing in retro-style jerseys, this game was decided by the most modern of methods -- the shootout. Surprisingly, Zambonis didn't clean the ice as they would for a regular NHL game.

Given the choice of which goal to defend, Miller and Conklin picked the west end to avoid the heavy snow that swirled and poured in toward the right.

Blowing winds and dropping temperatures worked against everyone inside the vast stadium, but no one seemed to mind the typical January weather in western New York.

"When you see 70,000 people packed into a stadium to watch hockey, that's usually a good sign," Crosby said.

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