The atmosphere was electric. Bundled-up fans got a chance to extend their New Year's Eve parties and watch hockey in a venerable stadium where baseball usually fills the seats.
If the setting was different, the results were the same yesterday. The Detroit Red Wings beat the Chicago Blackhawks again, this time out in the cold at Wrigley Field in the Winter Classic.
Players from both sides agreed on two things after Detroit's 6-4 comeback victory: The weather and the condition of the ice had little or no bearing on the result, and the overall experience was a blast.
"It exceeded my expectations," said Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom, who returned after missing two games with a sore ankle. "I don't think the wind or playing outdoors bothered either team."
Temperature at faceoff on an overcast day was a very bearable 32 degrees, even though a wind blowing at 18 mph made it a bundle-up afternoon for 40,818 fans at the second-oldest baseball park in the major leagues.
"Holy Cow. It's Cold," read one sign, using the longtime catch phrase of late Cubs broadcaster Harry Caray.
Pavel Datsyuk skated through two defenders for a go-ahead score in a three-goal second period, and the Red Wings scored twice in a 17-second span of the third to complete the comeback.
"I kind of had my mouth open in the beginning," said Detroit's Jiri Hudler, who had two goals in the second period to tie the score. "We were all looking at each other during the anthem - 'Wow, this is awesome.' "
The teams used the same locker rooms that the Cubs (Blackhawks) and visitors (Red Wings) use during the baseball season.
The players trudged on covered skates through tunnels, up and down steps and across a tarp-like carpet to the rink. The Red Wings' coaching staff kept their heads warm with fedoras.
Martin Havlat had a goal and two assists to help Chicago lead 3-1 after one period. But the Red Wings showed why they are the defending Stanley Cup champions, rallying to beat the Blackhawks for the fourth straight time this season and second time in less than 48 hours.
"They are the best team in the world. They are a team that can just take over when they want to," Chicago's Patrick Kane said.
Capitals 7, Lightning 4:: Alex Ovechkin had a goal and two assists, and host Washington beat Tampa Bay for its fifth straight victory and seventh in a row over the Lightning.
Matt Bradley, Boyd Gordon and Mike Green had a goal and an assist each, Sean Collins scored his first NHL goal, and David Steckel and Chris Clark added goals to help the Capitals improve to 16-1-1 at home.
Vincent Lecavalier scored twice for Tampa Bay, 4-0-1 in its previous five games.
Bruins 4, Penguins 2:: Manny Fernandez made 30 saves to remain perfect at home, and Boston extended its winning streak to 10 games with a victory over Pittsburgh. Fernandez improved to 9-0-0 at home.
David Krejci, P.J. Axelsson, Milan Lucic and Marc Savard scored for the Bruins.
Sabres 4, Maple Leafs 1:: Jason Pominville and Derek Roy each scored twice, and Ryan Miller stopped Niklas Hagman on a penalty shot and finished with 27 saves to lift visiting Buffalo over Toronto.
Canucks 2, Predators 1:: Jason LaBarbera, acquired from the Kings on Tuesday, made 31 saves in his first start for the Canucks, and Mattias Ohlund and Jason Jaffray scored goals in visiting Vancouver's victory over Nashville.
Off the ice
Canadiens:: Forward Alex Tanguay will miss six weeks after injuring his left shoulder Tuesday against the Lightning. Tanguay has scored 10 goals for Montreal and is third on the team with 26 points.