Bruins Win Outdoor NHL Game at Fenway Park

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

BOSTON (AP) The Boston Bruins provided their own unique finish to Fenway Park's history of memorable endings.

In the stadium where Ted Williams hit his 521st homer into the bullpen in the last bat of his career in 1960, and Carton Fisk waved his homer fair down the left field line, winning Game 6 of the 1975 World Series, Marco Sturm 's overtime goal Friday gave the Bruins a 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers in the Winter Classic.

Sturm's heroics certainly doesn't measure up to those. But for the winners of the first NHL game in baseball's oldest stadium, it was a moment they won't soon forget.

''It's probably going to be my most memorable goal ever and I'm going to enjoy it,'' Sturm said.

The rink ran from the left field to right field foul lines, primarily across the infield, with the center dot at second base - the spot where Dustin Pedroia makes his double-play pivot.

When Sturm scored at 1:57 of overtime, teammates poured off the bench and surrounded him behind the net where short left field would be for baseball games.

Despite the loss that ended the Flyers' four-game winning streak, coach Peter Laviolette was excited to be a part of the NHL's third annual New Year's Day outdoor game.

''The experience is once-in-a-lifetime,'' he said. ''Bruins, Flyers, 40,000 fans on a perfect day, you couldn't ask for anything better for the game of hockey.''

As the minutes ticked away, it looked like the Bruins might end up like many teams that faced Roger Clemens in Fenway: scoreless.

Danny Syvret gave the Flyers the lead at 4:42 of the second period with the first goal of his career. And with less than 5 minutes left, goalie Michael Leighton 's scoreless streak had gone over 150 minutes and the sellout crowd of 38,112 had little to cheer.

''For a while there, I didn't know if they were going to ever find out how these fans were going to react if we scored a goal,'' Boston coach Claude Julien said.

But then Mark Recchi , a former Flyer, tied it on a power play when he deflected Derek Morris ' shot past Leighton with 2:18 left in the third period. Sturm capped the comeback when he tipped in a pass from Patrice Bergeron for his team-leading 14th goal.

''It was a phenomenal day,'' Bergeron said. ''It was a nice ending.''

The temperature was 40 degrees when the Bruins walked out of the Red Sox dugout before the game, the highest of any of the three Winter Classics. Skies were overcast throughout as snow and rain forecast earlier in the week never materialized.

The Winter Classic was previously played at Ralph Wilson Stadium, where the Buffalo Bills play, and Wrigley Field, baseball's second-oldest stadium and home of the Chicago Cubs.

Fenway opened in 1912. Football, basketball, boxing and soccer also have been played there.

Friday, it was hockey's turn.

''I got kind of nervous (Thursday) night,'' said Leighton, who had won all four games in the winning streak after being claimed on waivers from Carolina on Dec. 15. ''You don't realize how big of a deal it is until you're actually here and see what it's like.''

Recchi's goal ended Leighton's shutout streak at 154 minutes, 7 seconds.

Then Sturm gave the Bruins their fifth win in six games, although some Flyers contended Boston had too many men on the ice.

''From where we were it looked like it, but we don't make the calls,'' Jeff Carter said.

Both sides said the ice was in good shape. Several times, though, an area in the faceoff circle to the left of the goal where Sturm scored had to be patted down to fill a hole. A few minutes after one of those patchups, Syvret scored when goalie Tim Thomas cross-checked Scott Hartnell to the ice from behind as Syvret shot. Seconds earlier, Hartnell had hit Thomas, knocking him off his skates.

''I was very grateful to tie the game because (their) goal was basically because I lost my cool and wasn't following the puck,'' said Thomas, who was selected for the U.S. Olympic team after the game.

There were several reminders of an earlier era.

Julien wore a fedora behind his bench, just as Toe Blake did when he was leading the Montreal Canadiens to eight Stanley Cups as coach from 1955-1968.

And with a decrease in fighting compared to the days of the Flyers' Broad Street Bullies of the '70s, Philadelphia's Dan Carcillo and Boston's Shawn Thornton engaged in the first bout in Winter Classic history. Carcillo ended it with a hard right that sent Thornton to the ice in the first period.

The NHL launched the Winter Classic hoping a return to hockey's outdoor roots would attract fans. Interest has ramped up each year.

Across the street from Fenway, only Winter Classic items were on display in the Red Sox team store. A replica of Boston captain Zdeno Chara 's jersey carried a $300 price tag. The hottest items were knit caps, going for $20 to $35, according to store manager Scot Saklad.

The teams were from cities that celebrated two of the last three World Series winners, the Red Sox in 2007 and Phillies in 2008. In 2009, the New York Yankees finished ahead of the Red Sox in the AL East and beat the Phillies in the World Series, disappointing passionate fans from both losing towns.

''Their intense dislike of New York is something they have in common,'' Curt Schilling, who pitched for Boston and Philadelphia, said on NBC during the first intermission.

Fans of both teams had something else in common Friday. They had just seen a marquee game with a magnificent climax.

''There's no doubt in my mind that this is a special park,'' Julien said.


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