BOSTON -- The 2010 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic turned out to be the equivalent of a walk-off grand slam over the Green Monster at famed Fenway Park.
Marco Sturm's goal at the 1:57 mark of overtime capped a furious rally by the Boston Bruins, who defeated the Philadelphia Flyers, 2-1, on New Year's Day in the most memorable of the three editions of the Winter Classic.
"I've been here during baseball games when someone hits it over the Monster," Bruin Shawn Thornton said as he lounged in the locker of David "Big Papi" Ortiz, who holds the record for home runs in Fenway in a season. "It was like that."
Sturm's goal, on a sweet setup by Patrice Bergeron, set off a wild celebration among the 38,112 that packed the grand old ballpark to its seams for a New Year's Day afternoon few will soon forget.
"I'm sure this will stay with us for the rest of our lives," Boston captain Zdeno Chara said.
Chara started the winning-goal sequence, getting the puck to Bergeron, who found Sturm for a shot that beat Flyer goalie Michael Leighton to the left side and set off a celebration that continued well after the players had left the ice.
"That's, I think, what I probably dreamed of this morning," Sturm said. "I think every player (wants) to score in overtime -- especially in a game like this."
For Chara, it is that split-second moment when the red light above Leighton's head flashed through the gloaming is the picture that will remain etched in his mind.
"To have Sturmy jump around, all of us jumping around," Chara told NHL.com. "That's the best you can ask for. To see everybody hugging each other, it was almost like we won a (Stanley) Cup."
Hockey's biggest prize wasn't on offer on New Year's Day at Fenway Park, but the eyes of the sporting world -- not just the hockey world -- were on downtown Boston on this day.
Neither the Bruins, nor the Flyers frittered away the opportunity, seizing the day in much the same way their predecessors did in the first two Winter Classics. Pittsburgh won the inaugural Classic over Buffalo in a shootout and Detroit marched into Chicago's Wrigley Field and beat the host Blackhawks. Boston is the first home team to win a Classic game.
While the Flyers were angry to be on the losing end -- a result that ended a promising four-game winning streak that had bolstered the team's confidence after a sluggish start to the season -- they still had to acknowledge the special quality of the event.
"The experience is once-in-a-lifetime," said Flyer coach Peter Laviolette, who is a Boston-area boy himself. "It's not just being a cliché. Fenway Park. Bruins. Flyers. Forty-thousand people on a perfect day. You couldn't ask for anything better for the game of hockey.
"It was just unbelievable to be a part of it; for our organization, for our players, for the fans. It was a great day of hockey."
Amazingly it was a pair of little-known Flyers who owned Fenway Park for the first 57 minutes of the game.
Spare defenseman Danny Syvret gave Philadelphia the lead 4:42 into the second period when his point shot found its way past Boston goalie Tim Thomas, who was out of position after leaving his crease to cross-check Scott Hartnell in retaliation for a collision between the two earlier in the goal-scoring sequence.
It was the first NHL goal of Syvret's career.
Then Leighton -- claimed off waivers as insurance for injured starter Ray Emery -- allowed the lead to stand up for the next 33 minutes, running his own shutout streak to 154:07.
Recchi, though, put paid to both Leighton's glory and Philadelphia's dreams of escaping with a 1-0 victory when he parked himself at the top of the crease during a power play and re-directed a centering pass from Derek Morris with 2:08 left in the game.
"I was in my spot and was fortunate to bank it in," Recchi said. "It was pretty awesome, I'll tell you that. It was a pretty cool experience, I'll tell you that. It's definitely something you'll never forget."
Recchi's goal allowed the frustrated home half of the sold-out crowd to finally celebrate in the boisterous way that Red Sox fans have made famous. It was that explosion of emotion and noise that pushed Boston forward to get the game-winner in the extra session.
"You're feeding off those people," Chara said. "They all got up, they all danced, they all cheered. That energy in Fenway was unbelievable. We all felt the chills on our back and we said, 'Oh my God, let's get another one!' "
Sturm delivered on that challenge, occupying a place in Fenway lore not too far removed from retired Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk, who hit the most famous home run this stadium has ever produced.
It was the perfect ending to a perfect day at one of baseball's most famous stadiums.
"You can talk about this forever," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "It's a great story and it's a lot easier to say it's a lot of fun because we won."
1 - 0 PHI
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 BOS
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