The Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins was over seven months in the making. But thanks to Eric Fehr, the Caps will remember it for much longer than that.
Fehr scored two goals to lift the Capitals to a 3-1 victory over the Penguins in front of over 68,000 people at Heinz Field.
The action on the ice could not have been more intense or emotional. After a scoreless first period, punctuated by a fight between heavyweights John Erskine and Mike Rupp, the offensive juggernauts made their presence felt. Evgeni Malkin opened the scoring at 2:13 when Marc-Andre Fleury and Kris Letang sprang him for a breakaway that he slid past Semyon Varlamov. It would be the only blemish for Varlamov, who made 32 saves.
Less than five minutes later, Mike Knuble tied the game on the Capitals' second power play of the night. A missed shot by Mike Green led to a scrum in the crease. Knuble found the loose puck in front and poked it in for his ninth goal of the season.
Fehr would extend the lead at 14:45 on a miscue by Fleury, who went behind the net to handle the puck, but lost control. Marcus Johansson would corral the puck and fire it to Fehr, who was wide open in front.
A back-and-forth third period led to many chances by both teams; the Caps and Pens combined for 13 shots on goal, but only one would count. Erskine would gain control of the puck behind the net and send a pass towards Fehr. Fehr touch-passed it to Jason Chimera, who sent it right back to Fehr. This led to a breakway opportunity that gave Fehr enough room to snap a top-shelf wrist shot over Fleury's glove to give the Capitals a 3-1 lead with eight minutes left.
The Penguins would pull the goalie with about a minute left, but could not score. After a team-wide shoving match took place with 0.6 seconds left, the Capitals lept into Varlamov's arms as they celebrated their huge victory.
If there is any event that could possibly rival the spectacle of the Winter Classic, it's Super Bowl Sunday, the day that these two teams will meet again.