Every Tuesday in December we’ll be looking back at some Winter Classic memories as we approach the 2020 game on Jan. 1 between the Stars and Predators from the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas.
The 46,967 fans inside Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia got to see a pretty entertaining Winter Classic in 2012. It was pretty heated on the ice between the Rangers and Flyers on that Jan. 2 afternoon. The longtime division rivals played an intense game that saw New York make a comeback and hold on to a lead with a dramatic finish.
Before the drama went down on the ice, there was some off of it when Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette made the decision to start Sergei Bobrovsky over Ilya Bryzgalov, he of the nine-year, $51 million contract signed that previous summer.
Things started well for the the Flyers, who opened up a 2-0 lead in the second period with goals from Brayden Schenn and Claude Giroux 1:55 apart. Mike Rupp then answered 30 seconds later for the Rangers and celebrated with a Jagr Salute after No. 68 exited the game with an injury.
Early in the third period the Rangers continued the comeback with Rupp adding a second and Brad Richards scoring the go-ahead goal with 14:39 to play.
The game remained that way into the final minute of the third. With both teams serving penalties, the Flyers emptied their net to make it a 5-on-4 as time ran down. A scrambled in front of Henrik Lundqvist’s net was whistled after Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh was caught covering the puck in the crease. That meant a penalty shot for Philadelphia, much to the amazement of John Tortorella, who expressed his costly opinion of the call after the game.
Danny Briere was chosen to take the penalty shot with 19.5 seconds left as Flyers fans in attendance prayed for an equalizer.
“That’s a lot of pressure,” said Flyers forward Jakub Voracek afterward. “You’ve got 50,000 people depending on you to score a goal. Millions watching on TV.”
Lundqvist played it very aggressively, coming out to almost in line with the faceoff dots. Briere was thinking five-hole.
“You go in and you try to get a read on where he is at,” Briere said. “He came really far out. All I was thinking was that the game was going to overtime, that I was going to score. I could see it going in.”
“I couldn’t believe he called the penalty shot,” Lundqvist said. “But it was exciting. Obviously there’s a lot of pressure on me there. But it was exciting. The whole game was exciting. Pretty intense.”
The win kept the Rangers atop the Eastern Conference and sent the Flyers to their third loss of the season to their rivals in New York and fifth straight against them. The comeback also marked the first time the Flyers had lost in regulation that season after leading through two periods.
“It’s frustrating,” Briere said. “It’s disappointing. But I can’t change anything about it now. I got a good shot off, he made a good save.”
NBC will air the 2020 NHL Winter Classic between the Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators at the Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas, Texas, at 1 p.m. ET on New Year’s Day.