Winter Classic 2012: Danny Briere's Penalty Shot and the Top Headlines

Matt BauerCorrespondent IIJanuary 3, 2012

Winter Classic 2012: Danny Briere's Penalty Shot and the Top Headlines

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    Being that the NHL's Winter Classic is more than just a game—it's an event—it's sure to create a number of headlines and this year was no different.

    Both teams, the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers, made headlines of their own during the NHL's free-agency before the season.

    New York acquired the biggest name of the summer, Brad Richards, who scored what ended up being the Winter Classic's game-winning goal. Philly acquired Jaromir Jagr—a future member of the Hall of Fame who spent the first 11 years of his NHL career in a Pittsburgh Penguins jersey, the Flyers' long-time Pennsylvania rival.

    This year's headlines were made on and off the ice—before, during and after the game.  Whether it was a player or a coach, it seemed as if everybody involved was going to make this year's Winter Classic one to remember—and they did.

Marc Staal Returns to Ice After a 37 Game Absence

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    New York Rangers defenseman and assistant captain Marc Staal made his return to the ice after missing 37 games because of a concussion.  Staal sustained his concussion last February when his brother, Eric Staal, laid him out in Carolina.

    There couldn't have been a better time for Marc Staal to return than for the Winter Classic.

    Staal had 12:41 of ice time, resulting in 20 shifts in the Rangers' 3-2 comeback win against the Philadelphia Flyers.  In his return he failed to record a point, but his plus/minus was a plus one.  Staal's stat line could've been worse after missing 37 games with concussion like symptoms.

Jaromir Jagr Leaves Game with a Leg Injury

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    Jaromir Jagr, 39-year-old forward for the Philadelphia Flyers, aggravated a calf injury early on in the Flyers' loss to the Rangers at the Winter Classic.

    The 17-year NHL veteran played just 7:09 before leaving the game with his injury.  Jagr had one shot on goal during that time, and it was a good one, but Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist pushed aside Jagr's backhand attempt.

Henrik Lundqvist Stops 34 in Win

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    Despite allowing the first two goals of the Winter Classic, Henrik Lundqvist stood strong and stopped 34 shots from the Flyers, leading the Rangers to a 3-2 comeback win.

    Lundqvist had a strong first period by stopping all 12 shots he faced, including an attempt from Claude Giroux on a breakaway by poke-checking the puck away.

    Lundqvist capped off his night when he stopped Danny Briere's penalty shot attempt that was awarded to him with 19 seconds remaining in the third period while the Rangers had a mere one-goal lead.

Danny Briere Stopped on Penalty Shot, Fails to Force OT

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    Danny Briere was awarded a penalty shot with 19 seconds remaining in the Winter Classic because the Rangers' Ryan McDonagh was covering the puck in the crease and the Flyers were trailing by one goal.

    Briere had a chance to be Philly's hero by tying the game with minimal time left in the third period, forcing overtime, but Henrik Lundqvist denied him.

    Briere tried going five-hole, but he wasn't quick enough to beat the 29-year-old Swede.

John Tortorella Blasts Refs After Win

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    Despite his team's comeback win, Rangers coach John Tortorella let the media know how he felt about the Winter Classic's refereeing—and he wasn't too pleased.

    Tortorella was specific and pointed directly to the third period, mainly the late penalty shot that was awarded to the Flyers.

    Was Tortorella right by saying the refs may have been playing to the Philadelphia crowd and giving the home team the best chance to get to overtime or were they simply doing their job?  Either way, I wouldn't be surprised if Tortorella was fined for his post-game comments.

     

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