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NHL Short Notes

BERNIER, BOZAK HELP LEAFS EDGE WINGS IN WINTER CLASSIC
Jonathan Bernier made 41 saves, plus another two in the shootout, and Tyler Bozak scored the go-ahead goal in regulation and clincher in the tiebreaker to lead the Maple Leafs over the Red Wings in front of a record crowd of 105,491 in the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at The Big House in Ann Arbor, Mich.

* With the victory, the Maple Leafs (21-16-5, 47 points) leapfrogged the Red Wings (18-14-10, 46 points) for the first Wild Card position in the Eastern Conference. The two clubs entered the day tied in points, but Detroit held the tiebreaker by virtue of more regulation/overtime wins (ROW).

* Bernier’s 41 saves were the most ever in a regular-season outdoor NHL game, passing the mark set by Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff in the 2011 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic (39 saves on 39 shots).

* Bozak now has 1-3—4 in two games since returning from a 12-game absence. He improved to 9-for-16 (56.3%) all-time in the shootout, tying Capitals forward Matt Hendricks for the second-highest success rate among active players with at least 15 career attempts, just behind Sabres forward Matt Moulson (12-for-21, 57.1%). (Elias)

* Joffrey Lupul also scored in the shootout, improving to 5-for-5 in the tiebreaker this season. He had only converted five of 18 career attempts (27.8%) entering 2013-14.

* James van Riemsdyk became the first player to appear in three Winter Classics – after skating with the Flyers in the 2010 and 2012 games – and second to play in three regular-season outdoor NHL games (Ty Conklin: 2003 Heritage Classic, 2008 Winter Classic, 2009 Winter Classic).

* A day after signing a seven-year contract extension, captain Dion Phaneuf recorded two assists and led all players with 28:24 of ice-time, 11 seconds shy of the record for a regular-season outdoor NHL game (Dan Girardi: 28:35 in 2012 Winter Classic).

* The Red Wings outshot the Maple Leafs 43-26, matching their record for shots on goal in a regular-season outdoor NHL game, set in the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Wrigley Field (43-27 versus the Blackhawks).

PLAYERS, COACHES SOAK IN WINTER CLASSIC
“Seeing the fans and hearing them, it’s an experience that I won’t forget and one that I’m really honored and privileged to have been part of. For a player to play in a game like this with as many people that were here and the weather and everything, it was an unbelievable time . . . It couldn’t have been any better of [a] script, it goes right to a shootout with the snow falling all day. It was just a great experience all around.” – Dion Phaneuf

“For me, today was a home run for hockey . . . I thought it was a spectacular venue, great crowd for both teams. Great hockey game.” – Mike Babcock

“It was something really special. As hockey players we’re never going to forget that. Having 105,000 people screaming and yelling for us is really amazing.” – Jonathan Bernier

“This is a game where obviously you’re going to play hard, but at the same time you have to enjoy it. This is a once-in-a-lifetime deal here with 105,000 fans. It was just packed. Toronto had good support. We had good support . . . It was the best experience I probably ever had playing hockey. It was awesome. It brings you back to your childhood days when you’re out on the pond or playing in the backyard. It was a lot of fun.” – Justin Abdelkader

“It’s another game that we want to get points on the board, but it’s different because we’re going to remember this for the rest of our lives . . . It’s great to be able to say that [we won] and just to be a part of this whole thing.” – Jake Gardiner

“In the playoffs it’s very loud and it’s intense, but you add another 85,000 people it brings another dimension. It was really cool and something I’ll always remember.” – Daniel Alfredsson

“A moment we’ll all remember forever. It’s cool to know you were part of the biggest one ever.” – Joffrey Lupul

“For a single game, as far as the atmosphere and everything, this is one of the greatest things I’ve ever been a part of. Probably [ever] will be a part of. Over 100,000 people, in a setting like this, with the fans really into it – a great experience.” – Niklas Kronwall

“It felt like you were going back in time. With our jerseys and playing outside, it was old-school. The snow didn’t let up, so there was nothing you could do. It just added to the whole experience.” – Jay McClement

“It was just awesome.” – Todd Bertuzzi

“I think this was just great for hockey.” – James van Riemsdyk

“We are going to remember this one forever.” – Tyler Bozak

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
“This season’s Winter Classic was a classy tribute to the roots of the game, a nod to the country that gave the world this sport and a tip of the hat to two great Original Six franchises that layer the history book with delicious memories and achievements . . . Simply put, it was the best Winter Classic yet.” – Pierre LeBrun (ESPN)

“It was the biggest game in NHL history by far in terms of scale, and it was the best game the league has ever staged – indoors or out – in terms of spectacle. It will be hard to match in the future, let alone top . . . What a venue, and what a scene.” – Nick Cotsonika (Yahoo! Sports)

“On Wednesday, the National Hockey League’s crowning spectacle came as advertised. It was beautiful and raucous and messy, in the biggest stadium in North America.” – Bruce Arthur (National Post)

“The feeling when the players walked into the 87-year-old stadium in front of more than 100,000 fans was truly something special. The biggest and best Winter Classic of them all lived up to its advanced billing.” – Chris Johnston (Sportsnet)

“The decibels produced when the Maple Leafs scored their first goal in their first Winter Classic might have been the most spectacular gust of utter elation in team history . . . That sound will be but one personal memory extracted from an extraordinary hockey event that defied the insistent elements in historic style on the first day of 2014 . . . The ability of the NHL to use this event to bottle the joy of the sport was again the undisputed victor.” – Damien Cox (Toronto Star)

“It was sure to be a memorable game just with that Big House scene alone, the monster crowd splitting the stadium down the red line with blue on one side, red on the other. It’s a moment for fans more than anything else. That was not lost on the players who were soaking in the glory of this game for all it was worth. Every single player remarked after the game about being sure to look around and take in the scene. It was something they won’t soon forget.” – Brian Stubits (CBS Sports)

“It fell in swirling, mad, white flurries, creating the snow globe backdrop the NHL always pines for at these outdoor events. It made for beautiful television . . . The Big House was a mad house, for the players, the coaches and the 100,000 or so fans that braved it all in the stands – but they found a way to pull it off.” – James Mirtle (Globe and Mail)

“How great was this? Well, for the spectators, it was a fantastic sporting event, the kind that will stick with them for years, before it even started. You walked into Michigan Stadium, and you knew: This was different . . . [The Winter Classic] may be the best idea the league has ever had.” – Michael Rosenberg (SI)

“Much like the NFL has taken over Thanksgiving and the NBA Christmas, the NHL has New Year’s and the Winter Classic might be the best of them all. It’s a showcase game in every sense: it’s visually gorgeous and an entertaining game.” – Sean Newell (Deadspin)

WINTER CLASSIC NETS RECORD RATINGS ON NBC
NBC Sports’ coverage of the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic delivered a 2.9 overnight rating, tying it with the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic as NBC’s best-ever overnight for a regular-season NHL game, according to metered market data from The Nielsen Company. Detroit led all markets with an 18.0 rating, followed by Buffalo (7.2), Pittsburgh (7.0), St. Louis (4.4) and Chicago (4.3).

ANOTHER CLOSE CALL IN THE TORONTO-DETROIT RIVALRY
Befitting a decades-long rivalry that has seen the clubs post virtually identical records in their regular-season series – including two shootouts in two meetings this season – the Maple Leafs and Red Wings were separated by a razor-thin margin on the biggest stage in League history.

Including the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, Toronto and Detroit have met 646 times in the regular season since 1926-27:

* DET: 276-273-97 (649 points)
* TOR: 277-275-94 (648 points)

SECOND WINTER CLASSIC TO BE DECIDED IN SNOW-ACCENTED SHOOTOUT
The 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic marked the second time a regular-season outdoor NHL game was decided by a shootout, both occurring with snow falling. For the fifth time in eight regular-season outdoor NHL games, the margin of victory was one goal.

Outdoor NHL Games Decided in Extra Time:

2008 Amp Energy NHL Winter Classic – Jan. 1, 2008
Ralph Wilson Stadium, Buffalo
Pittsburgh Penguins 2 at Buffalo Sabres 1 (SO)
Game-deciding shootout goal: Sidney Crosby

2010 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic – Jan. 1, 2010
Fenway Park, Boston
Philadelphia Flyers 1 at Boston Bruins 2 (OT)
Game-winning overtime goal: Marco Sturm

2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic – Jan. 1, 2014
Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor
Toronto Maple Leafs 3 at Detroit Red Wings 2 (SO)
Game-deciding shootout goal: Tyler Bozak

OUTDOOR NHL GAME ATTENDANCE APPROACHES HALF A MILLION
The announced attendance of 105,491 for the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic shattered the League’s single-game mark of 71,217 set Jan. 1, 2008, in the 2008 Amp Energy NHL Winter Classic at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo. The figure also pushed the total attendance for the NHL’s eight regular-season outdoor games to 468,905 and the per-game average to 58,613.

CLASSIC WINTER WEATHER
The 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic’s start time temperature of 13°F/-11°C was the coldest for a regular-season outdoor NHL game since the League’s inaugural event, the 2003 Molson Canadian NHL Heritage Classic.

Weather Conditions at Outdoor NHL Games:

2003 Molson Canadian NHL Heritage Classic, Edmonton: -2°F/-19°C, clear, severe wind chill
2008 Amp Energy NHL Winter Classic, Buffalo: 33°F /1°C, flurries
2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, Chicago: 32°F /0°C, overcast, swirling wind
2010 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, Boston: 39°F/4°C, overcast
2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, Pittsburgh: 51°F/10°C, overcast, light rain
2011 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic, Calgary: 16°F/-9°C, clear, wind
2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, Philadelphia: 41°F/5°C, partly cloudy
2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, Ann Arbor: 13°F/-11°C, snow, swirling wind

LOOSE PUCKS
With Toronto’s victory, visiting clubs improved to 6-1-1 all-time in regular-season outdoor NHL games – their two losses coming in the 2010 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic and 2011 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic . . . The Maple Leafs improved to 7-4 this season in shootouts, one victory shy of the League-leading Capitals (8-4) . . . Red Wings forward Daniel Alfredsson scored his 34th career goal versus the Maple Leafs (82 GP), the most among active players (Elias) . . . Red Wings forward Luke Glendening played in his second outdoor game in three days, after scoring two goals for the Grand Rapids Griffins (AHL) in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Toronto Marlies Monday at Comerica Park. In addition to his whirlwind week, Glendening played in three outdoor games for the University of Michigan, including the 2010 “Big Chill at The Big House” . . . The NHL Foundation and Honda made a donation of $13,800 – $200 per shot (Detroit: 43, Toronto: 26) – to the Toronto chapter of the Ronald McDonald House Charities toward programs that improve the health and well-being of children.

SNEAK PEEK AT THURSDAY’S ACTION
All Times Eastern
Nashville @ Boston, 7:00 p.m., FS-TN, NESN
Chicago @ NY Islanders, 7:00 p.m., CSN-CH, MSG PLUS
Carolina @ Washington, 7:00 p.m., FS-CR, CSN-DC
Winnipeg @ Ottawa, 7:30 p.m., TSN-JETS, SNET-E
Los Angeles @ St. Louis, 8:00 p.m., FS-W, FS-MW
Buffalo @ Minnesota, 8:00 p.m., MSG-B, BELL TV, FS-N, FS-WI
Montreal @ Dallas, 8:30 p.m., RDS, FS-SW
Philadelphia @ Colorado, 9:00 p.m., CSN-PH, ALT
Columbus @ Phoenix, 9:00 p.m., FS-O, KTVK
Edmonton @ San Jose, 10:30 p.m., SNET-W, CSN-CA

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

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