Maple Leafs top Red Wings in shootout to capture Winter Classic
Ann Arbor, MI (SportsNetwork.com) - The Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs renewed their Original Six rivalry outside on the snow-covered ice in front of a record crowd at Michigan Stadium in the sixth Winter Classic.
The game was decided in a shootout, reminiscent of the 2008 Winter Classic that ended with a shootout win for Pittsburgh over Buffalo. After both teams scored once, Tyler Bozak lit the lamp as Toronto's third and final shooter to allow the Maple Leafs to take a 3-2 decision over the Red Wings.
Bozak skated through the middle and fired a low shot past the stick side of Jimmy Howard for the win.
James van Riemsdyk and Bozak supplied Toronto's goals, while Jonathan Bernier turned aside 41-of-43 shots to allow the Leafs to jump over Detroit in the Atlantic Division standings and win their third straight.
"It was something really special that, as a hockey player, you're never going to forget that," Bernier said of playing in the Winter Classic.
Daniel Alfredsson and Justin Abdelkader contributed Detroit's two goals and Brenden Smith had two assists in Detroit's second straight loss.
Howard allowed two goals on 26 shots.
After a scoreless first period, both teams generated good chances early in the second frame. Howard denied Nazem Kadri with a toe save on a diving shot after the forward received a nice dish from Joffrey Lupul in the corner nearly five minutes into the second.
It was not until halfway through the second that Detroit opened up the scoring in front of the sea of blue and red jerseys at the Big House. Henrik Zetterberg broke through the neutral zone on a two-on-one and laced a pass from the left circle over to a streaking Alfredsson through the middle. The puck bounced off the skate of Alfredsson and past Bernier for the first goal 13:14 into the second.
Toronto evened the score with 36.5 seconds to go in the second. Phil Kessel shot from the right circle and van Riemsdyk was present at the side of the net to knock the puck out of the air and in.
Bozak gave Toronto the lead 4:41 into the third. A face-off win sent the puck back to Dion Phaneuf, who fired a shot from the left side. Bozak deflected it out of mid-air and past Howard. The play went under review after the Detroit netminder protested that it was knocked in with a high stick, but the goal was upheld.
As the snow continued to fall, Detroit tied the game late in the third. Smith overpowered van Riemsdyk along the boards and dished the puck to Abdelkader in front of the net and backhanded a one-timer for the equalizer with 5:32 left in regulation.
"It was better than I ever thought it would be," said Abdelkader. "The snow coming down the whole game, it was awesome I couldn't think of a way that the experience could have been better."
The overtime period brought quality chances from both sides. Zetterberg entered into Toronto's zone, but the horn rang at 2:30 to allow the two teams to switch sides. With 33 seconds left, Cody Franson rang a shot off the post after receiving a pass from Kessel behind the net.
Alfredsson went first for Detroit in the shootout. He skated wide left but missed on a backhand attempt on Bernier's short side. Howard answered Toronto's netminder with a save of his own. Van Riemsdyk dragged the puck on his backhand, but Howard stuck out his toe to make the stop.
Pavel Datsyuk came up middle, faked the shot and lifted the backhand top-shelf over Bernier. Lupul answered for Toronto by beating Howard through the five- hole. Tomas Tatar lost the puck after a number of dekes before Bozak beat Howard for the deciding goal.
There were 105,491 people were in attendance at Michigan Stadium. The previous record for attendance at a hockey game was 104,173 at an outdoor college game between Michigan and Michigan St. on Dec. 11, 2010 ... Alfredsson's goal was 437th, tying Pavel Bure for 64th on the all-time list ... Toronto out-hit Detroit 37-13 ... Van Riemsdyk and Ty Conklin are the only two players to play in three outdoor games ... Darren Helm was a last-minute scratch for Detroit due to a sore groin ... Bernier started in his fourth straight game, first time in NHL career ... While the Maple Leafs appeared in their first Winter Classic, the Red Wings visited the Chicago Blackhawks and Wrigley Field on Jan. 1, 2009 and came out with a 6-4 win.
01/01 20:37:49 ET