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Best NHL Outdoor Games of All Time

Between the Winter Classic, Heritage Classic, and Stadium Series, there have been many outstanding outdoor games in the NHL over the past two decades.

Below we will list some of the best outdoor games we have seen over the years in the NHL, including all events such as Winter Classics, Stadium Series, Heritage Classics, and more.

1. 2014 Winter Classic

At the top of the list is the 2014 Winter Classic between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs. This game had it all, beginning with a classic Original Six matchup, and two vibrant jerseys with a clash of Detroit's red and Toronto's blue.

Michigan Stadium was packed with over 105,000, which is still the record for NHL Winter Classic games, and we were even treated to a snowy atmosphere. 

It took over half of the game to see our first goal, but make no mistake it was a hard fought half in snowy weather. The Red Wings opened the scoring, but Toronto bounced right back and tied the game, making it 1-1 heading to the third.

The third period went very similarly with one goal apiece, but Detroit was forced to come back from down 2-1, and did so with roughly five minutes left. The fans were treated to an overtime that resulted in two shots each and zero goals.

Then it was off to the shootout. The bright lights were on, the snow was falling, and the pressure was on each side. It was a perfect set up. Daniel Alfredsson and James Van Riemsdyk were both held scoreless in round one, before Pavel Datsyuk and Joffery Lupul made each attempt in round two. 

After a round three Red Wings miss, the stage was set for Tyler Bozak. 

Bozak came down on Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard, and buried the shootout winner. It was a game full of drama where the Maple Leafs won 3-2.

Read more: NHL Winter Classic dates, history, stadiums, and more

2. 2008 Winter Classic

The 2008 Winter Classic was the original Winter Classic, but it was also one of the best. The game took place at Highmark Stadium in Buffalo with over 70,000 fans, and also gave us a very wintery feel. There may not have been a lot of goals in this game, but it was fantastic.

The game took no time getting interesting, as Penguins forward Colby Armstrong scored just 21 seconds in, giving them the 1-0 lead and quieting the crowd. It then took almost a full period for the Sabres to tie things up.

At 1-1, this game still had over 38 minutes left to play, but we saw no more goals in either the third period or overtime frame. It was still an entertaining affair with chances at each end, and the goaltenders in Ty Conklin for Pittsburgh and Ryan Miller for Buffalo were outstanding.

The moment that everyone remembers from this game is the iconic shootout. 

The shootout started with a Buffalo goal and Pittsburgh miss. However, the second round was reversed, and a Kris Letang goal evened things up. After Buffalo then missed their third round shot, it was time for the best player in the league to shoot.

Fans held their breath as league superstar Sidney Crosby hopped the boards to attempt to close out the game, and he did just that. He flew in on Miller, sneaked one five-hole, and had a celebration for the ages with his teammates. It was another storybook ending for a great outdoor game.

3. 2019 Stadium Series

A classic rivalry of the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins was renewed in outdoor territory at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia for the 2019 NHL Stadium Series. It was a rainy game, but that didn't kill the excitement one bit. 

None other than Sidney Crosby kicked things off and quieted the crowd with a first period tally, but Flyers forward Sean Couturier tied the game less than five minutes later. A fun first period was followed by a one-goal second period in favor of Pittsburgh, and just over six minutes into the third period it turned into a 3-1 lead for the Penguins.

The crowd of almost 70,000 people were worried, but then the real fun began with under five minutes to play. The Flyers made it a one-goal game deep into the period, and the pressure and excitement intensified. With an empty net and just 20 seconds to go, Jakub Voracek wristed the game tying goal. 

Then, in an exciting overtime, Flyers captain Claude Giroux completed the comeback and scored the game winning goal. This game had it all. A historic rivalry, a late game tying goal, great jerseys, an electric atmosphere, and a dynamic overtime finish.             

Read more: NHL Stadium Series dates, history, stadiums, and more

4. 2017 Centennial Classic

The second of two featured games between Toronto and Detroit on this list, comes the 2017 Centennial Classic. Taking place at BMO Field in Toronto, there was snowy weather and a packed stadium of over 40,000 people. 

The first two periods were hard-fought, but if you enjoy goals then it was somewhat uneventful. Heading into the third period, the Red Wings held a 1-0 lead in enemy territory. 

However the third period was a whole other story. Maple Leafs' forward Leo Komarov tied the game very early into the third, beginning a 4-goal run in 12 minutes. However, Toronto's 4-1 lead quickly evaporated, along with the game tying goal happening with just two seconds left to play. 

The mood of the crowd changed quickly, with nerves setting in for overtime. It wasn't a quick overtime, and there were chances each way, adding to what was already a great game. At the 1 minute 20 second mark, Maple Leafs superstar Auston Matthews buried his second goal of the game, sending the fans home happy with a 5-4 overtime win.           

5. 2009 Winter Classic

In one of the highest scoring outdoor games, the Chicago Blackhawks hosted the Detroit Red Wings at Wrigley Field for the 2009 Winter Classic. 

In front of over 40,000, there were ten goals scored, and it was spread out through each of the three periods giving the crowd lots of action. 

Chicago came out of the gates flying, earning a 1-0 just over a minute into the game. Three more combined goals then resulted in a 3-1 Blackhawks lead heading into the second frame. Then, the road team in Detroit added three goals in the second, bringing a tight 4-3 lead into the final period. 

Chicago wanted to give their home crowd an effort they could be proud of, but a flat third period gave Detroit a 6-3 lead, before a garbage-time goal from Chicago made it a 6-4 final in favor of the Red Wings. 

While the home team lost this game, it comes into this list as an electric game with lots of goal scoring, 80 total shots, and four lead changes. Wrigley Field also offered a spectacular spectacle for the game with perfect weather.

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