The Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators entered the 2020 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic going in different directions. That theme continued when the Stars defeated the Predators 4-2 at Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas on New Year's Day.
In the season finale of the three-part docuseries "Road to the Winter Classic," which premiered Monday, cameras take viewers behind the scenes with the teams in Dallas.
The episode opens with the Stars going on a special shopping trip for their gameday wardrobe. Meanwhile, Predators goalie Pekka Rinne is soaking up the scene and the fans at the team hotel.
[RELATED: Full 2020 NHL Winter Classic coverage]
"I feel like, the closer to the end you get, the more you appreciate everything you have," the 37-year-old, in his 13th NHL season, said. "This sport has given me everything, and I'm so fortunate to be able to play this game, play at a high level and get to experience things like this, the Winter Classic. For sure, this is going to go up there in my experiences in the NHL."
The Stars, who enter the outdoor game having won two in a row, arrive for practice at the stadium on Tuesday, donning eye black on a sunny New Year's Eve in Dallas. Stars goalie Ben Bishop and his teammates take photos of the assembled rink.
"Pretty sweet," said Bishop. "It's going to be awesome."
It is. The Stars and Predators each arrive at the stadium for the Winter Classic in style, western style that is.
But the excitement at the start of the game turns to frustration when Stars forward Corey Perry delivers a high hit to Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis. Ellis is carted back to the locker room after sustaining an upper-body injury. Perry makes the long walk back to the room after being ejected.
The Predators lead the Stars 2-1 after two periods but aren't happy with the second.
"Attack the game," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said entering the third period. "It's about an attitude going out there."
But the third period belongs to the Stars. For an NHL-leading seventh time, they come back to win when trailing after the second period. It's a frustrating day for the Predators, who lose their third straight game.
"This game, it didn't feel like just a regular-season game," Rinne said. "It felt like something bigger. So, I feel like that makes it a little bit worse and makes it sting a little bit more than it would. I don't know. We're in trouble right now."
Stars coach Rick Bowness, of course, was able to enjoy his team's third straight win, which came in front of 85,630 fans, the second-biggest crowd in NHL history.
"When you're a part of what went on, and the excitement and the electricity, that's special," Bowness said. "From a coaching perspective, we won the game, we battled back. From a fan's perspective, that was great hockey, man. That was a great hockey game."
The season finale will be available for viewing on NHL.com, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram starting Tuesday. NHL Network will reair episode three on Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET.