January 1, 2011 by staff
Winter Classic, (AP) – Mario Lemieux could not find the net. This does not mean he has lost a key marker. Lemieux set up two goals to offset two goals by Washington as actors Paul Mulvey retired Capitals and the Penguins skated to a 5-all tie Friday in the old classic game of winter. The two-period game played before 10,000 fans were relaxed – most players wore ski hats instead of helmets – but competitive. Peter Bondra, a marker of the 500 career goals, scored the tying goal for Washington with 45 seconds remaining.
The nail could have been Hall of Fame, Lemieux and Larry Murphy assisted on the game’s final Pittsburgh, Hall of Fame Ron Francis on the power play. Hall of Fame Paul Coffey and former All-Star Kevin Stevens was also on the ice.
“This power plays, so it looked like we knew what we were doing there a little bit,” Murphy said.
Most players were affected by the temporary ice rink installed a week ago between the 20 yard lines at Heinz Field. The ice could be tested by rain showers expected on Saturday and moderate temperatures, the first time the 4-year Winter Classic was played in anything other than the winter weather.
“The ice was great. Just a few times in the neutral zone, there was a puddle,” said Lemieux. “But they came right out and do the housework.”
Rob Brown, Rod Buskas Craig Simpson and Jay Caufield also scored for Pittsburgh. Caufield, best known for his fighting skills, surprised by his own teammates wound up a slap shot just inside the blue line.
“I have a Hall of Famer, Ron Francis, one side, and a Hall of Famer Bryan Trottier of the other, and then play with Mario,” Brown said. “A pretty cool experience.”
Mark Lofthouse, bearing the number 8 is now worn by Alex Ovechkin, and Alan may have added goals for the Capitals, who were under Hall of Fame, but the young goalkeepers. The Penguins’ starting goalie was 60 years, Gilles Meloche, their goalkeeping coach.
The fans, with the full special dark blue Penguins’ Winter Classic jersey, sang and shouted to Lemieux to score, but he could not put a slap shot and a couple of wrist shot past 49 years, goalie Don Beaupre.
“It was great to play with some of my old linemates,” said Lemieux, who left for the second and last time in 2006 – seven years after buying the Penguins. “Kevin Stevens, it is a little slower but he knows where to go.”
Stevens, who seems to be well above its weight by playing at a time of 230 pounds, took a couple of shifts and, he says, “I felt like I was there one month.”
Bill Guerin, who retired last month at age 40, was among the youngest players.
“There will always be competitive, we’ve all played this game a long time, and nobody wants to lose, we are here … We might as well play hard,” he said.
Lemieux was the last of 50 players announced. To welcome him to the ice, the Penguins used a recorded message by the late John Barbero, their long-standing arena announcer who died last summer.
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