Outside heroics

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:33 AM ET

BUFFALO -- To Ryan Miller, the kid lucked out, that's all.

To hockey history, Sidney Crosby seized the moment, which may prove to have been watched by more Americans on TV than any hockey game since The Miracle On Ice at the Lake Placid 1980 Olympic Winter Games.

To Ryan Miller, Crosby became the hero of the NHL Winter Classic - the first outdoor regular season game in the U.S. - mostly by accident on the snow-covered ice in the middle of the Buffalo Bills NFL stadium to spoil the ending for 71,217 fans.

"I lost the puck. I felt like he just kind of threw it back in. I thought I made a good play to stay with him," said the Buffalo Sabres goalie of Crosby scoring the shootout winner which gave the Pittsburgh Penguins a 2-1 victory.

"I didn't think he made quite the play he wanted to. But it worked out for him."

Crosby put it in off the inside of Miller's right pad.

"You know, there was a lot of snow from the red line to about the slot. My worry was just getting the puck to that area and once I got there I just wanted to react," said Crosby on his part.

CHANGING CONDITIONS

Conditions changed during the game with snow falling early and late. Holes had to be repaired several times during the game. But overall, Crosby said the players couldn't complain.

"It was a great feeling. It was a great experience. I thought they did a pretty good job of trying to maintain the ice.

"It's much harder to be more spontaneous and with the snow buildup it wasn't as easy to carry the puck. But I think all the guys feel the same. It's a pretty unbelievable experience and we all feel pretty lucky."

There was so much white stuff on the ice after the anthems, a pass got hung up in the snow, resulting in a turnover which Crosby took advantage of to set up Colby Armstrong for the first goal of the game 21 seconds in.

Considering the conditions, which Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff compared to pebble on a sheet of curling ice, it was a pretty good period with several scoring chances, as the Pens outshot the Sabres 11-9.

While it stopped snowing about eight minutes in, at the midway mark of the period the league called a timeout to bring out the Zambonis for a dry scrape, which they did in every period.

ICE MAN KEPT BUSY

NHL ice man Dan Craig was required to make several visits to make patchwork repairs throughout the game.

The only goal of the second period again came early when Buffalo's Tim Connolly made a perfect pass that Brian Campbell sniped from the top of the circle. The players - at least the Sabres who held a 14-0 advantage in shots in the second period - seemed to adapt to the ice.

With no score in the third, it went to overtime with the teams switching ends after two and a half minutes of the five-minute four-on-four session. In the shootout, unlike the regular season, both goaltenders took turns defending the same net.

Ales Kotalik scored for Buffalo and Kris Letang for the Penguins before Ty Conklin stopped Maxim Afinogenov and Crosby went five-hole on Miller to win it.

"Each team deserved it," said Pittsburgh coach Michel Therrien. "It could have gone both ways. We ended up scoring the extra goal in the shootout, but it was a fun game to be part of, without a doubt."


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