The Montreal Canadiens struggles in Western Canada continued, as they fell 4-0 to the Calgary Flames in the 2011 NHL Winter Classic. 41,022 fans were in attendance in a game that started at -8.6 Celsius while the sun was still up.
Rene Bourque scored his 99th and 100th goals of his career, and Anton Babchuk's first career shorthanded marker was a back breaker during the Canadiens only power play of the game.
Alex Tanguay's goal, on a beautiful saucer pass from Alex Tanguay, put the game out of reach for the Canadiens.
Carey Price took the loss, but kept his team in the game early facing 19 first period shots. Miikka Kiprusoff earned the shutout and First Star of the game, making 39 saves.
Canadiens defenseman James Wisniewski, who played with full facial protection to protect a cut to the face, felt the game was the most frustrating of his career. "We tried some plays, and just wasn't happening. They got the puck behind us, and they capitalized on some situations."
The Montreal rearguard also felt his team played too cute in trying to make plays in less than normal conditions.
Despite rallying back on the shot clock in the second period, the Canadiens gave up six odd-man rushes to the Flames, while only getting a single one of their own.
"The shorthanded goal was the turning point," said Canadiens coach Jacques Martin. "I felt we had good momentum. We were creating some chances, and after that it kind of turned around."
The ice conditions were obviously not the best of situations, but some indoor rinks are not the greatest either. Teams need to adapt to the situations. The Flames did, and the Canadiens didn;t
Martin gave credit the the staff for maintaining it. "When you play these games, you know the ice conditions aren't going to be good. The staff
NHL Commisioner Gary Bettman, who braved the cold for most of the night praised the two clubs, the City of Calgary and the league employees for their hard work. The Heritage Classic was the third major NHL event in the last 50 days.
The commissioner could not give any foreseeable future as to where this event, or the Wnter Classic will be as schedules and logistics are still being put together. I also asked if a non-NHL city would be considered for these events. The Commissioner replied that despite numerous requests from outside markets, the current cities (who also demand the events) get first priority.
Haley from Matchsticks and Gasoline was working adjacent to me from the press room at McMahon Stadium, so make sure to check in on her reports from the game as well.
The Canadiens will stay in Calgary, and have their rookie dinner Monday before heading to Vancouver to face the Canucks on Tuesday.
1. CAL - PPG Rene Bourque - Jokinen, Tanguay - 8:09
3. CAL -Rene Bourque - Sarich 14:46
4. CAL - PPG Alex Tanguay - Iginla, Morrison - 10:53
Tweets of the night:
Wyshynski after the third Calgary goal: "No lip-reader, but I'm pretty sure the mouth on Carey Price's mask just said 'WTF?'"
MattBarnabyESPN: "If u keep making me listen to this band on heritage classic I will slam my hand in my truck door over and over again!! Unbearable" Band in question was Metric