In front of a huge crowd at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor and national TV audiences in the U.S. and Canada, the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Detroit Red Wings, 3-2, in the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic®. The game was tied 2-2 after regulation and remained so following overtime, which forced a shootout in which Toronto's Tyler Bozak netted the game-winning goal.
Played on a rink built at the football home of the Michigan Wolverines, the league's annual New Year's Day outdoor game set a National Hockey League attendance record and took place with snow falling throughout a back-and-forth contest between two of the league's storied "Original Six" franchises. In addition to the huge support for the Red Wings at the Big House, located roughly an hour from Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, tens of thousands of fans wore the blue and white of the Maple Leafs.
In addition to the special jerseys players wore for the contest, many donned extra headgear to protect themselves from the bitter cold in Ann Arbor, where the temperatures dropped to the lower teens, with a wind chill of near zero degrees. The snow that gathered on the ice surface affected the speed of the players and their ability to pass the puck, and had to be cleared frequently. Neither team scored in the first period, but each tallied a goal in the second, when Daniel Alfredsson put Detroit out front and Toronto's James Van Riemsdyk notched the equalizer less than a minute before intermission.
In the third period, Bozak and the Red Wings' Justin Abdelkader traded goals, which sent the game into overtime. Each side had good chances in the extra period, but when neither scored, a shootout ensued. Detroit had the first goal, but Toronto's Joffrey Lupul tied the best-of-three session, which ended when Bozak fired a low shot past Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard to claim the win.
As of this writing, it was unclear whether the crowd would set a Guinness World Record for hockey, but officials were on hand to determine whether it surpassed that for the Big Chill at the Big House college hockey game in 2010 between Michigan and Michigan State, also played at Michigan Stadium. 105,491 tickets were sold for today's game, and even though there were some empty seats, the attendance almost certainly exceeded the previous mark of 71,217 for the league's debut Winter Classic in 2008.
Read more about this year's Winter Classic on NHL.com.