Whenever the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers face off, you know that the score will be close, words will be exchanged and the crowd will be revved up. However, what happens when these two rivals face off in front of nearly 47,000 fans at Citizens Bank Park on a cold winter day?
What you get is one of the best hockey games of the season, also known as the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.
Yes, just two days into 2012, Citizens Bank Park hosted the NHL’s fifth annual outdoor hockey game. When all was said and done, the Rangers skated off with a 3-2, come-from-behind victory in the Monday, Jan. 2, game.
Goaltenders Henrik Lundqvist and Sergei Bobrovsky played well in the first period, which ended with no score. Lundqvist stopped 12 shots for the Rangers in the first while Bobrvosky turned aside all nine shots he faced.
In the second, Philly got on the board first. Brayden Schenn fired a puck past Lundqvist at the 12:26 mark of the second to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead. Playing in his 18th career game, Schenn was fortunate enough to tally his first NHL goal outdoors.
Claude Giroux, Philadelphia’s leading scorer, tallied the second goal of the afternoon for the Flyers just 1:55 later. However, Mike Rupp of the Rangers got one goal back for his team just 30 seconds later to make the score 2-1.
In the third, Rupp struck again to tie the game with a shot that beat Bobrovsky blocker side. Brad Richards then completed the comeback for the Rangers when he found the loose puck in front of the Philadelphia net and fired it home to make the score 3-2.
As the final 15 minutes of the game wound down, both teams had strong scoring chances, especially Philadelphia. After New York defenseman Ryan McDonagh covered the puck in the goal crease, Flyers center Danny Briere was awarded a penalty shot (video) with just 20 seconds left to go. However, Lundqvist came up strong and stoned Briere on the attempt. Lundqvist finished with 34 saves as New York emerged victorious in the 2012 Winter Classic.
While the loss dropped Philadelphia to 0-1-1 in Classic games, the fact that the Flyers have been able to participate in two of these games is amazing. Having an outdoor game during the NHL regular season and “going back to where it all began” is truly something special. To be able to watch an outdoor game with Flyers (and Rangers) fans is something I will never forget. To see my hometown team play one of their biggest rivals on a rink built on top of the infield at Citizens Bank Park is absolutely phenomenal, no doubt about it. If you were at the game with me today, no matter who you were rooting for, you’ll agree that your experience at the Winter Classic was priceless. I know that mine sure was.