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Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic - Maple Leafs vs. Red Wings

'24/7' finale focuses on Toronto's win in Winter Classic

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

While the first three episodes were about two teams struggling under the microscope, the finale of HBO's "24/7 Red Wings-Maple Leafs: Road to the NHL Winter Classic" was the story of how one team fought back from the adversity to ring in 2014 and start the second half of the season with the right foot forward.

With the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic as the featured game, HBO showed the snowy sights and offered some never-before-heard sounds of the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 shootout win against the Detroit Red Wings at Michigan Stadium on New Year's Day.

The win was the Maple Leafs' third in a row after they had lost seven of the first nine games played under the eye of HBO's watchful cameras. The loss was the Red Wings' second in a row and ninth in 12 games (3-6-3) with HBO following them around.

Not long after Tyler Bozak was shown scoring the shootout winner, narrator Liev Schreiber, playing off remarks made in his opening monologue from the first episode, talked about the striking differences between the Red Wings and Maple Leafs as they started the second halves of their season in the NHL's frigid outdoor event.

2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic watched by record 8.2 million viewers across North America

More than 3.5 million viewers in Canada watched CBC's coverage


NEW YORK – The 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® followed its hockey attendance record by re-writing the record book for regular season North American television viewership as well.

The combined average television viewership for Wednesday afternoon's Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® on NBC in the U.S., and CBC and RDS in Canada was 8.234 million viewers in North America. The previous best was 6.6 million average viewers for the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® at Pittsburgh's Heinz Field, which aired in primetime on NBC, CBC and RDS due to a weather delay.

Frigid temps, snow, crowd deliver Classic atmopshere

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The NHL Winter Classic has become a marquee event for the sport of hockey, but the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic was always going to be different.

There was going to be a different venue, both in sheer size and design. The visiting team ensured there would be a different dynamic in the crowd. And when people woke up Wednesday morning, it was clear the weather was going to be a little different than recent Winter Classics spent in places like Boston, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

Simply, Michigan Stadium delivered on its uniqueness in a demonstrative way.

"It was the best experience I've probably ever had playing hockey," said Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader, who grew up this state and went to Michigan State, a blood rival of the Wolverines from the University of Michigan. "It was awesome. It brings you back to your childhood days when you were out in the back yard or playing on a pond. It was a lot of fun. I was just thankful to have the opportunity."

The Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 in a shootout, with the announced attendance of 105,491 making it the largest crowd for a game in NHL history.

Maple Leafs' Bozak returns to form quickly after injury

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Halfway through his first season after signing a five-year, $21 million contract extension with the Toronto Maple Leafs last summer, center Tyler Bozak was already encountering adversity.

Entering the final game of 2013, Bozak had already missed 24 games with injuries, including four weeks in December with an oblique strain. He returned to Toronto's lineup Sunday and registered three assists to lead the Maple Leafs to a 5-2 win against the Carolina Hurricanes. He also brought his signature versatility, winning faceoffs, killing penalties and playing on the power play.

But Wednesday afternoon at Michigan Stadium in front of the biggest crowd in NHL history, Bozak assumed a new role: Winter Classic hero.

Goal caps unforgettable day for Wings' Abdelkader

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Justin Abdelkader knows a thing or two about scoring big goals.

As a 20-year-old at Michigan State University, Abdelkader helped his school win a national championship when he scored the game-winning goal with 18.9 seconds remaining in the title game against Boston College.

Abdelkader's goal Wednesday at the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic didn't win his Detroit Red Wings a championship, or even the game. But it did erase a 2-1 deficit with 5:32 remaining in regulation and helped Detroit earn a point in standings in its 3-2 shootout loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs in front of more than 100,000 fans at Michigan Stadium.

Players tweet excitement for Winter Classic

It seems the entire hockey world is talking about the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on Wednesday afternoon at Michigan Stadium (1 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS) and that includes the players from the teams involved.

Here are some tweets from players from the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs.

Despite snow, ice declared ready for Winter Classic

Shawn P. Roarke - NHL.com Senior Managing Editor

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- As the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic approaches Wednesday, snow has painted an impressive picture. An overnight storm stretching into Wednesday morning has blanketed Michigan Stadium in white, painting the perfect snow-globe picture for hockey's biggest showcase.

The snow, however, presents some challenges for Dan Craig, the man responsible for the ice that will host the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs for the 1 p.m. faceoff (NBC, CBC, RDS).

But, Craig said Wednesday morning that the ice surface will be ready.

"We're good, we're solid," said the NHL Senior Director of Facilities Operations.

Busy Yzerman glad he played in Alumni Showdown

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

DETROIT -- For Steve Yzerman's first time competing in any sort of hockey game since retiring in 2006, his day got off to a pretty good start.

The longtime Detroit Red Wings captain and Hockey Hall of Fame member received a warm response as the final player introduced before the start of the second of two Alumni Showdown games Tuesday at Comerica Park. Red Wings alumni swept the doubleheader against Toronto Maple Leafs alumni, winning the opener 5-4 before earning a 6-5 victory in the second game on Tomas Holmstrom's shootout goal.

Babcock: Winter Classic will be moment to remember

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The storyline about players becoming giddy when they first arrive at the site of the Winter Classic is not a cliché. It's real.

The proof could be found in both dressing rooms and on the ice Tuesday at Michigan Stadium.

The buildup for the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic between the Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs will finally end shortly after 1 p.m. ET on Wednesday (NBC, CBC, RDS) when the puck is dropped at The Big House.

More than 105,000 are expected to file into the stadium to set a record for attendance at a hockey game.

Kessel, van Riemsdyk reflect on return to Ann Arbor

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- There is no way Toronto Maple Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk could have envisioned his dream coming true in the same place where it was born eight years ago, but that will likely happen Wednesday after the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, when he and right wing Phil Kessel are expected to be named to the United States Olympic team.

USA Hockey will name its team Wednesday from Michigan Stadium after the conclusion of the game; the announcement will be carried live by NBC.

Kessel and van Riemsdyk, Toronto's top two scorers, played for the United States National Team Development Program based in Ann Arbor. They attended Pioneer High School, which is across the street from Michigan Stadium. They lived with host families who will be at the game Wednesday against the Detroit Red Wings (1 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC).

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