Jan 1, 2011, 11:07 PM EDT
So although Evgeni Malkin began the scoring with a nice semi-breakaway tally, the 2011 outdoor game belonged in many ways to the grunt workers instead of marquee players as the Washington Capitals beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in a competitive 3-1 match. Eric Fehr scored two goals in two very different ways, taking advantage of a Marc-Andre Fleury gaffe to score an ugly game winner but then clinching the game with a beautiful breakaway score. Mike Knuble – the oldest player on the ice for either team – tied the game by scoring in the courageous and gritty (but ugly) style that earned him 14 seasons in the NHL (and counting).
It was a rugged and entertaining game even when rain made it a bit tougher for the two offensively gifted clubs to display their traditional attacking styles. Semyon Varlamov showed why Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau tabbed him to start the game by stopping 32 out of 33 pucks while Fleury was strong for most of the game (making 29 out of 32 saves) aside from that mishap.
For a time, it seemed like the game might be marred by controversy after David Steckel nailed Crosby with a hard hit late in the second period. Yet Crosby played through the third period, indicating (though not guaranteeing) that he won’t face many ill effects.
Instead, Crosby and the Penguins just need to deal with the side effects of losing to Ovechkin and the Capitals. Judging from their dejected reactions, it looks like that hurt quite a bit, though.
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