The Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins are set to take their historic rivalry outside in the NHL Winter Classic on Monday at Fenway Park.
Playing as the home team at the historic Boston ballpark for the second time ever, the Bruins can extend their season-opening home point streak (18-0-3) to 22 games after taking one point from a 4-3 overtime loss to Buffalo Saturday.
The outdoor spectacle ahead will allow the Bruins to turn the page and showcase their NHL-best start to a wide audience.
“This is the Super Bowl of the NHL regular season,” coach Jim Montgomery said. “It’s a special moment, a special game for us. There’s no way it is just another game.”
Boston is 7-0-3 in its last 10 games.
Pittsburgh’s streaks are going the other direction. The Penguins are 1-3-2 in their last six and winless in the last four straight after Friday’s 4-2 home loss to New Jersey, in which the power play was 0-for-9 without defenseman Kris Letang (lower-body).
“We know it’s all business for this trip,” Penguins forward Jake Guentzel said. “It was good to have the family stuff (Saturday and Sunday). … We’ve got to stop the bleeding here.”
Letang and fellow blueliner Chad Ruhwedel both remain day-to-day.
Monday marks the 36th regular-season outdoor game in NHL history, the Penguins’ sixth and Bruins’ fifth. However, this will be the first featuring three career 1,000-point scorers in Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, and Boston captain Patrice Bergeron.
“(Crosby and Bergeron) represent everything that’s great about hockey,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “They’re good people, great ambassadors for the sport and terrific players.”
Adding in younger stars like Boston’s 50-point scorer David Pastrnak — whose four goals in outdoor games are the most in NHL history — and Guentzel makes the game even more special.
“I think it’s a great game to show off what the NHL is all about,” Montgomery said. “You have stars that have done so much in the league, you have young budding stars and the speed of the game.”
Montgomery is coaching his second straight Winter Classic. He was an assistant with the St. Louis Blues during the 2022 event at Target Field in Minneapolis.
Boston can become the second team to win four outdoor games, as its 3-1 outdoor record includes Winter Classic wins in 2010 at Fenway and 2019 at Notre Dame Stadium.
“It’s about soaking everything in,” said Bergeron, who tied Phil Esposito for third on the Bruins’ all-time points list with his 1,012nd on Saturday. “The (NHL) does a great job of making it a fun event and it kind of breaks the year up a little bit. … I think we have to enjoy the moment.”
Linus Ullmark (20-1-1) will start in Boston’s net.
Prior to Friday, the Penguins’ power play had been clicking at 39 percent since Dec. 1.
“It’s hard to be critical of this group. They’ve been pretty dynamic over the last 10 games or so,” Sullivan said. “The power play has been winning games for us.”
Malkin, whose 22 shots in outdoor games are one shy of Patrick Kane for the most in NHL history, scored against the Devils to break his three-game point drought.
There will be plenty to soak in for Sullivan, a former Boston University captain who hails from nearby Marshfield, Mass.
“This for me is the culmination of (a lifelong Red Sox fandom), with baseball and hockey being two of the loves in my family’s life,” Sullivan said. “Being able to experience this at Fenway is something special.”
Pittsburgh won the first-ever Winter Classic in 2008 at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo. Crosby scored the deciding goal in a shootout.
–Field Level Media