On January 1, 2008, with snowflakes falling around him in Buffalo, Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby slips a shot past Ryan Miller to win the NHL’s inaugural Winter Classic—the first regular-season game in league history played outdoors in the United States. The game is played before 71,127 fans at Ralph Wilson Stadium, home of the Buffalo Bills.
Afterward, an elated Crosby, who is from Nova Scotia, told reporters: "Growing up, I played a lot outside … When you see 70,000 people jammed into a stadium to watch hockey, it's a good sign. The atmosphere and environment, I don't think you can beat that."
Despite the loss, members of the Sabres also enjoyed the outdoor atmosphere. Lindy Ruff, Buffalo's coach, told reporters he would “love to do it again. I thought it was awesome. It was good for the game. It may not be the best hockey game because of the situation, because of the weather, because of the snow, but the atmosphere was incredible …The hell with the cynics.”
The 2008 Winter Classic was the NHL’s second regular-season outdoor game. The first, known as the 2003 NHL Heritage Classic, was played November 22. 2003, between the Montreal Canadians and Edmonton Oilers in Edmonton, Alberta. With wind chill, the temperature dropped to well below zero.
Since 2008, the NHL has played the Winter Classic each year, with games at Chicago's Wrigley Field, Boston's Fenway Park and other storied venues. In 2011, Crosby’s Penguins hosted a game at Heinz Field, home of the Pittsburgh Steelers.