The Boston Bruins defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 4-2 in the Winter Classic on Tuesday and this one had a little bit of everything.
Boston's top line showed up like expected and Chicago's Cam Ward looked a lot like his old self in the NHL loss in front of a sold-out crowd of 76,126 Notre Dame Stadium.
Here are three takeaways from the 2019 Winter Classic.
Bruins' top line is back
The Bruins have had some problems this season, but when their top line is on the ice they can compete with anyone.
Tuesday was the perfect example as David Pastrnak and Patrice Bergeron were all over the scoresheet and Brad Marchand added an empty-net goal in the final minute as well. The three players have combined for 124 points this season and are completely in the discussion as the best line in the league.
The Avalanche's top line of Gabriel Landeskog, Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon have plenty to say about that, as they have combined for 166 points, but when the Bruins' top line is healthy — as it was not for the better part of a month as Bergeron was out with an upper-body injury — they really can compete with anyone.
Scoring early becoming key to Blackhawks' success
The Blackhawks' struggles have been widely documented this season. They already fired a legend of a coach in Joel Quenneville, they got off to a slow start with new head man Jeremy Colliton, and they remain near the bottom of the league in goals allowed, penalty kill percentage and power play scoring.
But they have found their way as they entered the Winter Classic having won five of their last six games. A big key to that has been scoring early. Chicago had scored first in their last five games coming into this one and went 4-1 in those outings after starting the year 11-19-6.
They scored first again on Tuesday and were in this game throughout. Had it not been for a funky goal off a rebound against the fourth line, Chicago may have won. The Blackhawks play better when they are out in front and New Years' Day was no exception.
A bit of nostalgia
It may have been disappointing initially that Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford was put on the injured reserve before the Winter Classic, but his absence gave the game one of its more fun stories.
Ward was in net for the game, and while he has not been good this season, he made some really nice saves on Tuesday including one where he somehow went sprawling to stop a shot in front.
Ward, who won the 2006 Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe with the Carolina Hurricanes, looked a lot like his younger self in this one, stopping 32 of 35 shots. It may have been a tough loss for the Blackhawks but it had little to do with Ward.
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