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NHL Winter Classic

10 memorable moments from Centennial, Winter Classics

From Maple Leafs wanting to stay on ice all day to Vladimir Tarasenko boosting Blues

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

And so the Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings, St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks move back indoors. They move back into the comforts of climate-friendly arenas. They move back into their sense of normalcy.

Before they do, let's take a look back at the highlights of a New Year's weekend featuring a 5-4 overtime win for the Maple Leafs against the Red Wings in the 2017 Scotiabank NHL Centennial Classic at Exhibition Stadium on Sunday and a 4-1 win for the Blues against the Blackhawks in the 2017 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Busch Stadium on Monday.

Here are the top 10 most memorable moments, in chronological order:


1. Get off the ice, boys

The Maple Leafs hit the ice at Exhibition Stadium around 9:30 a.m. Saturday for a 45-minute practice. Coach Mike Babcock put them through the paces in what looked like a crisp workout. Babcock left the ice around 10:15. Nobody followed him out.

For the next 30 minutes, the majority Maple Leafs stayed on, whipping pucks around, taking shots, chatting, laughing. They would have stayed on all day.

"I was on the ice until they kicked us off," defenseman Morgan Rielly said.

The players had to get kicked off so Toronto's alumni could go on for warmups before the 2017 Rogers NHL Centennial Classic Alumni Game. However, when the 2016-17 Maple Leafs made it back into the locker room, they were greeted by many of the alumni.

The Maple Leafs players and alumni shared a large locker room built for the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League. Their stalls were interspersed, so Rielly sat in between Borje Salming and Bryan McCabe, Mitchell Marner was right next to Darryl Sittler, Frederik Andersen was next to Curtis Joseph, Matt Martin next to Dave "Tiger" Williams.

They mingled while the media was inside the room. William Nylander and Marner walked around getting autographs on sticks.

To make it complete, the surviving members of the Maple Leafs' 1967 Stanley Cup championship team walked in the room to meet and greet the rest of the members of this forever Toronto family.


2. Mike Palmateer's vintage save

As fellow Maple Leafs alumni goalie Felix Potvin so perfectly said, Mike Palmateer's save on Tomas Holmstrom's penalty shot 2:40 into the first period of the Centennial Classic Alumni Game set the tone for the entire afternoon.

Palmateer stayed with Holmstrom when he cut wide left, back to the right, into the middle, deked, and tried to beat him with a forehand shot inside the left post. Palmateer reached back with his right arm, fell on his side, and made the save.

It was his only save of the afternoon. It also might be the last save he ever makes.

Palmateer, who was known for his acrobatic saves as much as his debilitating knee injuries, said he wrenched his back making the save and needed help to stand up. He didn't return. He didn't have to. He had the save of the game.

"Good way to go out," Palmateer said.

3. Kris Draper, Gary Roberts get heated

To set the scene, you need to know the situation. The Centennial Classic Alumni Game is tied 3-3 with 6:50 remaining in the third period. The action is intensifying. Nobody wants to lose. Red Wings forward Dino Ciccarelli has just driven Maple Leafs defenseman Danny Markov into the corner boards, bear-hugging him to keep him upright.

And here comes Toronto forward Gary Roberts in to lay a solid hit on Detroit forward Kris Draper, who doesn't take kindly to it. Draper pushes back at Roberts, who is trying to skate back up the ice. Draper tries to pull Roberts down from behind. Roberts stays up and gives Draper a whack at the back of his legs with his stick. They skate across the ice together, jawing at and shoving each other before they eventually have to be separated by the officials.

"It wasn't fake," Draper said.

For good measure, two of the peacemakers are Maple Leafs forward Tie Domi and Red Wings forward Joey Kocur, who between them accumulated 6,034 penalty minutes in the NHL.


4. Keith Tkachuk scores, dabs

Blues alum Keith Tkachuk provided an indelible memory for the Winter Classic Alumni Game on Saturday by scoring a go-ahead goal 3:24 into the third period, and then dabbing like he was Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.

Tkachuk gained inside position on Blackhawks alum Steve Poapst in front of the net and got a pass from Bernie Federko. He put it in, skated away, and gave a quick dab. He later said he did it because his daughter, Taryn, wanted him to do it, "so I had to do it."

Tkachuk doubled down on his dab when he was shown on the big scoreboard during the Winter Classic on Monday. He did it while sitting next to Taryn.

5. Wayne Gretzky sits with media

There was a pause midway through a press conference with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Wayne Gretzky prior to the Centennial Classic. In walked the five living legends who later would be honored: Johnny Bower, Johnny Bucyk, Dave Keon, Red Kelly and Glenn Hall.

As they walked in, Gretzky immediately got up from his seat at the podium to greet each of them, shake their hands, and take pictures. When it was announced that they would participate in a short Q&A with the media, Gretzky took a seat among the reporters.

Gretzky eventually had to be escorted out by NHL staff because he had another commitment.

"I wanted to ask a question," he whispered.

6. First 33 legends are named

Sportsnet's Ron MacLean took the stage shortly before the start of the Centennial Classic on Sunday to officially launch one of the featured elements of the League's Centennial Celebration, the 100 Greatest NHL Players presented by Molson Canadian.

MacLean revealed the list's first 33 legends, who all played between 1917 and 1967. The first 28 were represented by family members. The remaining five -- Bower, Bucyk, Keon, Kelly and Hall -- walked up themselves. Again, they were greeted by Gretzky, who is the official ambassador for the yearlong NHL Centennial Celebration.


7. Anthony Mantha's goal with 1.1 seconds left

Red Wings forward Anthony Mantha capped Detroit's dramatic comeback with a goal from the slot with 1.1 seconds remaining in regulation to send the Centennial Classic into overtime. The goal stood after an official review.

Video: DET@TOR: Mantha ties the game with 1.1 seconds left

The Red Wings gave up four goals in the first 12:05 of the third period. However, Jonathan Ericsson made it 4-2 at 13:54. Dylan Larkin scored the first of two extra-attacker goals at 18:14; Mantha's goal was also a 6-on-5 goal.

"The major takeaway for myself and the team is the fightback that we showed," Larkin said.


8. Auston Matthews wins it in overtime

Toronto rookie center Auston Matthews scored his second goal of the game in overtime.

Matthews flipped the puck past goalie Jared Coreau with a backhand with 1:20 left in overtime to give the Maple Leafs a 5-4 win.

On the day the NHL kicked off a yearlong celebration to honor its past, the game to represent it was dominated by the young stars of today. Seven of the nine goals were scored by players 22 or younger, including three between Matthews and Marner, each 19.

"Definitely one of the best moments in hockey I've ever experienced," Matthews said.

Video: DET@TOR: Matthews wins the game with backhand in OT


9. 'Golden' legends drop the puck

Bobby Hull and Brett Hull, "The Golden Jet" and "The Golden Brett," walked down the red carpet to center ice side by side to drop the ceremonial first pucks prior to the start of the Winter Classic on Monday.

Bobby, wearing his Blackhawks sweater, and Brett, wearing his Blues sweater, each dropped a puck to the stick of his team's captain, Chicago's Jonathan Toews and St. Louis' Alex Pietrangelo.

Two minutes later, the game started with a real faceoff between Toews and Blues center Jori Lehtera. Toews won it and 62 seconds later Chicago had a 1-0 lead on defenseman Michal Kempny's goal. The Blackhawks wouldn't score again.


10. 113 seconds of Vladimir Tarasenko

Vladimir Tarasenko had a chance to give St. Louis a lead with 17:10 remaining in the third period when he went in alone on a breakaway. Chicago goalie Corey Crawford stoned him.

"I thought for sure that was going to be the one," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said.

Tarasenko, who is the Blues' leading goal-scorer, would soon get two.

Video: CHI@STL: Tarasenko nets a quick pair in the 3rd

He scored his 17th of the season with 7:55 remaining to give St. Louis a 2-1 lead, and then got his 18th off a quick shot from the left faceoff circle 1:53 later, bringing most of the sellout crowd of 46,556 out of their seats.

"Any time you got Vladi on your team, usually helps," Pietrangelo said. "He's able to take over the game."

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