NEW YORK -- Following a breakout rookie season in 2010-11 when he had 23 points in 42 games, New York Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello had every reason to believe he'd be on the ice for the 2012 NHL Winter Classic at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. But after totaling three points in 10 games to start the 2011-12 season, he was sent to the American Hockey League. By the time the Rangers suited up for their 3-2 outdoor win against the Philadelphia Flyers, Zuccarello was out of the Hartford lineup nursing an ankle injury.
It was a difficult season he hasn't forgotten, especially after playing the hero with two goals in the Rangers' 7-3 win against the New Jersey Devils at Yankee Stadium in a 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series game Sunday.
"I was happy for the guys playing the  Winter Classic. It's a good experience. So obviously it was a little disappointing not being able to play that. I wasn't good enough to play," Zuccarello said after scoring the game-tying and game-winning goals against New Jersey. "But [Sunday] was probably better playing in front of our own fans in New York, so I'm happy I could play with this group here and at this stadium."