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Penguins Brave the Elements

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins
A torrential downpour rained down on Heinz Field during the third period of the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.

Saturday’s game marked the first time that significant rain made an appearance at the Winter Classic, and it made an already-soupy ice surface even more difficult to play on, and the Penguins lost 3-1.

“It gets frustrating sometimes when you’re getting the chance to maybe create a play to score a goal and it doesn’t cooperate,” Mike Rupp said. “But other than that, I thought the crews and everyone did a good job with the ice.”

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When Pittsburgh and Washington headed onto the ice for warm ups, the wetness of the ice caused by the day’s 52-degree weather was apparent as each passed puck left a streak of flying water behind it.

The first two periods were also difficult in the temperamental weather conditions. But it was the monsoon that rained down throughout the final 20 minutes that was the toughest for the Penguins to adjust to.

The puck didn’t stick to the wet ice surface as the players and coaches thought it would – it ended up bouncing around, making it hard for a Penguins squad down 2-1 after the second and desperate to score goals.

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“I think when it started to come down pretty good out there, you could see the puck started to bounce even a little bit more,” captain Sidney Crosby said.

“I think the third period was tough,” Rupp said. “It was an adjustment. Each period it was a little bit different. In the second period, the ice was dry and bumpy. In the third period, it was all wet.”

According to Max Talbot, some of the players removed their helmets once the third-period monsoon began in order to have better visibility. But that was the only adjustment they made at that point.

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The team that held the lead entering the third period was going to have the advantage with the increasingly bad weather conditions, as it’s easier to play simple shutdown defense in those conditions than try to score.

And unfortunately for the Penguins, that team was the Capitals.

“It was obviously tougher to play (jn the rain),” forward Max Talbot said. “But it’s a hockey game. And if we had been up 3-1 and it would have rained, we probably would have been happy about it.”

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