The goaltenders in the Winter Classic had experience with this outdoor gig and it showed.
Pittsburgh's Ty Conklin, an alum of Edmonton's 2003 Heritage Classic, and Buffalo's Ryan Miller (2001 Michigan State Cold War) combined to stop 60 of 62 shots through overtime before the Penguins won the shootout to claim a 2-1 victory.
The snowy conditions this time were dramatically different for both goaltenders from their first foray outdoors. Conklin endured below-zero temperatures in Edmonton while Miller dealt with rain on practice day and dry but 30-degree weather on game day at Michigan State.
"They were both so much fun," Conklin said. "This one wasn't as cold certainly so I didn't have any problem there. It was more enjoyable that way. It seemed like the fans were having a good time. If we could have wished for one thing, it would have been a little bit less snow."
Miller said he made a conscious effort to take in the scene more than he did in college.
"I was a lot more nervous for that one," Miller said. "This one was just go out and enjoy it and have a good time. Obviously disappointed with the shootout, but overall, I thought it was a great experience.
"I feel like I've played enough games now where I can pay attention to other things and still focus on the puck. Back in college, I didn't want to get too caught up in the emotion of it."
Miller made 24 stops after Colby Armstrong beat him on a rebound 21 seconds into the game. That was the fastest goal from the start of a game Miller has allowed in his NHL career. The previous mark was 32 seconds by Florida's Joe Nieuwendyk on, strangely enough, New Year's Day of 2006.
Conklin made 36 saves to win his fifth straight game and beat his former teammates for the second time in four days.
"He's a great guy. I'm happy for him," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "I'm not happy what he did to us the last couple games. But I'm not surprised because he's had a history of playing some good hockey. And I think he had added incentive, let's not kid ourselves."
Conklin made seven stops in OT, including five on Buffalo's power play to open the extra session.
"I saw all the shots," he said. "The guys did a good job making sure they were shooting from the outside. We figured that's what they wanted to do. It was tough on guys to create a lot of pretty stuff down low. Offensive chances really got kiboshed with all the snow."
In the shootout, Conklin was beaten by Ales Kotalik but stopped Tim Connolly's shot and thwarted a Maxim Afinogenov deke. The Connolly save was huge because it prevented Buffalo from taking a 2-0 lead in the shootout.
"I knew Al would probably shoot and he did and he scored," Conklin said. "That was a good shot. Maxie looked like he was going to deke the whole time. With Connolly I was surprised he shot."
Miller outfoxed Erik Christensen on a deke but was beaten by Kris Letang's roofed backhand and Sidney Crosby's shot through the legs.
"I lost the puck. I was going for a tip check on him and thought he was trying to get around me," Miller said of Crosby's goal. "Same thing with Letang. . . . I made two poor reads after sticking with Christensen."e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org