Two old foes in Classic

Posted: February 10, 2012

ALTHOUGH Detroit and Toronto are in different conferences now, their rivalry dates to 1927 and they have played 117 playoff games, second only to 170 between Montreal and Boston.

The two Original Six foes will play in the Winter Classic on Jan. 1 at Michigan Stadium, it was officially announced yesterday. It will be part of an outdoor showcase that also will include minor league and college hockey games at Detroit's Comerica Park.

Toronto will become the first Canadian team to play in the Winter Classic when the Maple Leafs and Red Wings face off in Ann Arbor, about 45 miles west of Detroit.

"It's Hockeytown versus the center of the hockey universe," Toronto general manager Brian Burke said.

Michigan Stadium hosted a college hockey game in 2010 between Michigan and Michigan State. It set a Guinness World Record for most fans at a hockey game with 104,173. The league is already talking about setting a new mark when the pros take the ice.

"Even with 115,000 or more tickets available, we still won't have enough to satisfy the demand," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said.

Although Detroit hasn't hosted the Winter Classic, the Red Wings played in it in 2009, beating the Chicago Blackhawks, 6-4, at Wrigley Field.

While the centerpiece game next January will take place in a college town, the league is making sure to include Detroit, scheduling what it calls the Hockeytown Winter Festival at Comerica. The rink at the ballpark will host college hockey's Great Lakes Invitational, as well as AHL and OHL games. Youth and high school games are also expected, along with the Red Wings-Maple Leafs alumni game.

The Comerica rink will also be open for public skating, as was the case at Citizens Bank Park, where the Flyers and Rangers met on Jan. 2.

In last night's games * 

At New York, Brad Richards scored 3:37 into overtime to give the Rangers a 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

New York's Brian Doyle tied it at 10:13 of the third period.

* At Newark, N.J., T.J. Oshie scored the only goal in the shootout and goalie Brian Elliott was perfect as St. Louis beat New Jersey, 4-3, and ended the Devils' five-game winning streak.

* At Uniondale, N.Y., Max Pacioretty had three goals, Scott Gomez netted his first in more than a year, and Montreal beat the New York Islanders, 4-2, for their third straight win.

* At Washington, the Winnipeg Jets overcame a two-goal deficit in the final 2:15 of regulation, then prevailed in a shootout for a 3-2 victory over Washington.

Evander Kane and Dustin Byfuglien awoke the Jets' attack with power-play goals to force the game into overtime.

* At St. Paul, Minn., Henrik and Daniel Sedin both scored, leading Vancouver to a 5-2 win over the Wild.

Wild captain Mikko Koivu returned to the lineup after missing the last eight games with a left shoulder injury.

* At Columbus, Jamie Benn scored two goals and Kari Lehtonen had 26 saves to make an early lead stand up in Dallas' 4-2 victory over the Blue Jackets.

* At Ottawa, Chris Phillips scored his first two goals of the season in his 1,000th NHL game as the Senators ended a seven-game losing streak with a 4-3 win over Nashville.

* At Sunrise, Fla., Sean Bergenheim and Mike Santorelli scored in the second period, sending the Florida Panthers to a 3-1 victory over Los Angeles.

* At Glendale, Ariz., Shane Doan's overtime goal lifted Phoenix over Calgary, 2-1.

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