As the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic enters its fourth year, the annual Jan. 1 game has become the most eagerly awaited non-Stanley Cup Playoff contest. Saturday's meeting between the Pittsburgh Penguins
and Washington Capitals
even has been the subject of its own HBO documentary series and will draw more than 65,000 fans to Heinz Field.
The first three games have lived up to the "Classic" moniker. Here's a look at some of the numbers from those games, as well as a few connected to the 2011 Classic.
Consecutive games in which Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby
has a point entering this season's Classic. Crosby had his 25-game streak snapped Wednesday night on Long Island in the Penguins' 2-1 shootout loss -- Pittsburgh's last game of 2010.
Winter Classic that has been decided in regulation. Detroit beat Chicago 6-4 in 2009 at Wrigley Field in the only one of the first three Winter Classics that was decided in 60 minutes.
Goals scored by Detroit's Jiri Hudler
against Chicago in the 2009 Classic. Hudler is still the only player to get more than one goal in a Winter Classic game. Hudler was also plus-3 in that game, the best rating by any player in the Winter Classic.
Points by Hudler, teammates Brian Rafalski
and Marian Hossa
, and Chicago's Martin Havlat
in the 2009 Classic, tying them for the most by any player. Rafalski and Havlat each had a goal and a pair of assists, while Hossa got all of his points as assists.
Combined goals scored by Detroit and Chicago in the first period of the 2009 Classic, the most in any period of the three games. In fact, the four goals are more than all the goals scored in either of the 2008 or 2010 games.
Combined power-play goals by Chicago (3) and Detroit (2) in the 2009 Winter Classic. The other two games yielded just one PPG, by Boston's Mark Recchi
Penguins who took part in the 2008 Winter Classic and are on the roster for the 2011 edition. That group includes defenseman Brooks Orpik
and Kris Letang
, as well as forwards Evgeni Malkin
, Tyler Kennedy
and Crosby. Jordan Staal
, who played in 2008, has yet to play this season due to a hand injury but may be able to make his season debut on Saturday. Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury
, who figures to start for the Penguins, missed the 2008 game with an injury.
Most shots on goal by a player in the Winter Classic. Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk
had seven shots in the 2009 game at Chicago, scoring one goal. Philadelphia's Jeff Carter
in 2010 had six, as did Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin
and Buffalo's Henrik Tallinder
Wins by the Penguins in the 20 games in which Crosby and Ovechkin have faced each other since both entered the NHL in 2005. Pittsburgh is 12-6-2; Washington is 8-8-4, including a 3-2 shootout loss to Pittsburgh on Dec. 23.
Penalty minutes assessed to the Philadelphia Flyers
in the 2010 Classic, the most of the six teams that have taken part in the New Year's Day game so far. Detroit is next with 12 in 2009.
Seconds in Winter Classic history before a goal was scored. Pittsburgh's Colby Armstrong
beat Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller
just 21 seconds into the first Classic in 2008. It was the only goal scored by the Penguins through 65 minutes of regulation and overtime.
Ice time for Tallinder in the 2008 Classic, the most by any player in any of the three games. Tallinder had the advantage of a 65-minute game because the contest was decided in a shootout after a scoreless overtime. The most ice time by a player in a regulation game was 24:59 by Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom
Points scored by Crosby against Washington, four more than Ovechkin has had against Pittsburgh. Crosby has 35 points in 20 games against Ovechkin and the Caps; Ovi has 31 points in 21 games against Crosby and the Penguins (Crosby missed one game in 2007-08 with an ankle injury). Ovechkin does have the advantage in goals, 17-13.
Most saves by a goaltender in a Classic game. Ty Conklin
got the start for Pittsburgh in 2008 and stopped all but one of Buffalo's 37 shots through regulation and overtime. He made two more saves in the shootout to give the Penguins a 2-1 victory.
Goals by Crosby in calendar year 2010, second in the NHL. Crosby finished the year one goal behind Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos
, who scored twice in Thursday's game against Montreal to pass him with and finish with 61 for the year. Washington's Alexander Semin
was next with 44 goals, followed by Ovechkin with 38. Crosby also tops among all players with 126 points; Ovi was fourth with 101.
Career points for both Crosby and Ovechkin entering the 2011 Winter Classic. Ovechkin leads Crosby in goals, 283-215, but Crosby has 356 goals to Ovechkin's 288. Crosby has gotten his points in 410 games, 25 fewer than Ovechkin.
Approximate number of fans expected at Heinz Field for 2011 Classic. That would be the second-largest attendance ever -- Pittsburgh and Buffalo played in front of 71,217 fans at Ralph Wilson Stadium in the 2008 game.