Aside from a slipping mascot or two, everything came together just about perfectly heading into the 2019 Winter Classic at Notre Dame Stadium. Luckily, the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins delivered some fantastic hockey after all of that pomp, circumstance, and pyro.
The Bruins ended up winning the Winter Classic 4-2 in one of the best-played outdoor games, kicking off 2019 in such a great way that even Blackhawks fans can remember it as a good time.
Although, we might also be getting to the point where someone may float some talk of an outdoor “curse” for the Blackhawks:
An empty-netter inflated the difference between the two teams, as this was a competitive contest, and if the conditions limited the skill on display in any way, the impact was subtle. The pace was fabulous, and the goalies had to be too, as the two teams combined for 74 shots on goal.
In some outdoor games, you’ll see some unlikely heroes, and the 2019 Winter Classic did not disappoint in that regard.
To start, Brendan Perlini began the scoring to give Chicago a 1-0 lead. Dominik Kahun also restored a Blackhawks lead to 2-1, but it was a lesser-known Bruin who made the difference, as Sean Kuraly batted home a loose puck with his backhand to extend his game-winning goal streak to two games.
As you’d expect from one of the best top lines in hockey, the Bruins enjoyed some strong work from their top guys, too.
David Pastrnak scored a goal and an assist, Brad Marchand nabbed that empty-netter, and Patrice Bergeron was, well, Patrice Bergeron. In one of the turning points of the game, Bergeron defused a David Kampf shorthanded breakaway chance, then scored on the power play:
There were plenty of “that’s why Bergeron owns the Selke”-type responses to that great two-way sequence, and those takes are pretty much undeniable.
While the Bruins’ power play connected on its first two power-play opportunities, the Blackhawks can take some solace in their penalty kill coming through during the third period. Boston received a hearty 5-on-3 opportunity and another power play soon after, yet they could not break the 2-2 tie.
Kuraly’s alert goal ended up being the difference, anyway, but at least Chicago could take something from this loss.
Both teams likely hope the veteran goalies might build some confidence. Tuukka Rask made 36 saves in the win, while Cam Ward enjoyed one of his better appearances since joining the Blackhawks, stopping 32 of 35 shots.
Overall, you can’t really ask for a much better NHL game considering the unpredictable nature of … nature. And yes, it’s OK to have the Notre Dame fight song in your head for the rest of the day.
MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.