WASHINGTON (AP) — A bit too much sunshine filled the sky at the opening faceoff of the Winter Classic, and seat cushions rained down when the winning goal was scored just before the final whistle.
The replica of the U.S. Capitol in center field was a nice touch, given that the real thing is obscured by scaffolding because of ongoing repairs.
Alex Ovechkin, the player most responsible for making the nation’s capital worthy of hosting the NHL’s annual outdoor game, scored a goal, and he was also among the first to mob teammate Troy Brouwer when Brouwer’s power-play goal decided the game with 12.9 seconds to play Thursday.
The NHL showcase was every bit the thrill for the host Washington Capitals, who beat the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 on New Year’s Day.
“We start talking about Winter Classic since we started the season, and this is it,” Ovechkin said. “I remember Brouwie said it’s a good time to show up and make a show. And he did.”
Brouwer scored against his former team to cap a chaotic sequence. Ovechkin had his stick broken on a slash by Brandon Saad. While Ovechkin was raising his hands to make sure the officials would the call the penalty, Brouwer gathered the loose puck in the left circle.
“Somebody had to try and keep it alive, so I just kind of turned around, threw it to the net,” Brouwer said. “I’m not even sure where it went in, but I heard the noise of the crowd, heard the noise of the guys on the ice.”