WASHINGTON -- After months of preparation, Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis saw a dream come to fruition Thursday: the Capitals hosted, and more importantly, won the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.
Leonsis was all smiles in the Capitals' dressing room at Nationals Park after Troy Brouwer's goal with 12.9 seconds remaining in the third period gave Washington a 3-2 win against the Chicago Blackhawks in front of a raucous crowd of 42,832.
"I knew that our fans would fill the stands, be a sea of red," Leonsis said. "I knew that the NHL really has their execution of this event down. And we were good hosts. We spent a lot of time, I personally spent a lot of time, walking around the building. I saw all the care over every detail.
I was walking to do an interview this morning, and there was a mother and daughter, and they had their arms around each other, and they just had the biggest smiles on their faces. I just stopped, and I looked at them. One of the ladies blew me a kiss. I mean, those are the kind of moments you want to capture. You want to make lifelong memories."
Leonsis lobbied to host the Winter Classic for several years and was able to cross it off his to-do list Thursday. But the Capitals' owner is hoping to host more events in the future, including a Stanley Cup Final. Washington (19-11-7) has earned at least one point in nine of its past 10 games and has moved into third place in the Metropolitan Division, one point ahead of the New York Rangers.
"I don't want to make this more than it is," Leonsis said. "I mean, I'm hoping that we can continue to be a franchise that can accomplish bigger things than winning the Winter Classic. But it does feel good to have the League believe in us, and I think this was the best Winter Classic. If you look at the quality of the game, the speed of the game, the quality of the ice. … I think the weather was absolutely perfect. And to win at the buzzer basically, it makes for great theater, great drama.
In the past, if we have a two-goal lead and we lose it, sometimes we would wilt. And I didn't see any of that. I didn't feel any lack of confidence from anyone on the team. I thought we were the better team today, and we deserved the two points."