BOSTON – The Boston Bruins provided their own unique finish to Fenway Park’s history of memorable endings.
In the stadium where Ted Williams hit his 521st homer into the bullpen in the last at-bat of his career in 1960, and Carlton Fisk waved his homer fair down the left field line, winning Game 6 of the 1975 World Series, Marco Sturm’s overtime goal Friday gave the Bruins a 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers in the Winter Classic.
Sturm’s heroics certainly doesn’t measure up to those. But for the winners of the first NHL game in baseball’s oldest stadium, it was a moment they won’t soon forget.
“It’s probably going to be my most memorable goal ever and I’m going to enjoy it,” Sturm said.
The rink ran from the left field to right field foul lines, primarily across the infield, with the center dot at second base.
When Sturm scored at 1:57 of overtime, teammates swarmed him behind the net in front of where the short left field fence is for baseball.
Despite the loss that ended the Flyers’ four-game winning streak, coach Peter Laviolette was excited to be a part of the NHL’s third annual New Year’s Day outdoor game.
“The experience is once-in-a-lifetime,” he said. “Bruins, Flyers, 40,000 fans on a perfect day, you couldn’t ask for anything better for the game of hockey.”
As the minutes ticked away, it looked like the Bruins might end scoreless.
Danny Syvret gave the Flyers the lead at 4:42 of the second period with the first goal of his career. And with less than 5 minutes left, Flyers goalie Michael Leighton’s scoreless streak had gone over 150 minutes and the sellout crowd of 38,112 had little to cheer.
“For a while there, I didn’t know if they were going to ever find out how these fans were going to react if we scored a goal,” Boston coach Claude Julien said.
But then Mark Recchi, a former Flyer, tied it on a power play when he deflected Derek Morris’ shot past Leighton with 2:18 left in the third period. Sturm capped the comeback when he tipped in a pass from Patrice Bergeron, his team-high 14th goal.
“It was a phenomenal day,” Bergeron said. “It was a nice ending.”
The temperature was 40 degrees when the Bruins walked out of the Red Sox dugout before the game, the highest of any of the three Winter Classics. Skies were overcast throughout as snow and rain forecast earlier in the week never materialized.
The Winter Classic was previously played at Ralph Wilson Stadium, where the Buffalo Bills play, and Wrigley Field, baseball’s second-oldest stadium and home of the Chicago Cubs.
Fenway opened in 1912. Football, basketball, boxing and soccer also have been played there.
Friday, it was hockey’s turn.
“I got kind of nervous (Thursday) night,” said Leighton, who had won all four games in the winning streak after being claimed on waivers from Carolina on Dec. 15. “You don’t realize how big of a deal it is until you’re actually here and see what it’s like.”
Recchi’s goal ended Leighton’s shutout streak at 154 minutes, 7 seconds.
Then Sturm gave the Bruins their fifth win in six games, although some Flyers felt Boston had too many men on the ice, making a line change at the time.
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