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2016 NHL Winter Classic

Montreal versus Boston. The 2016 NHL Winter Classic was the ninth scheduled rendition of the annual event, but surprisingly — with tradition being such a big part of the Winter Classic — it marked the first appearance for the Montreal Canadiens. For hockey fans throughout North America, the Canadiens-Bruins Winter Classic was a matchup that was simply unbeatable.

The visiting Canadiens took on the host Bruins in Gillette Stadium, home field of the New England Patriots since 2002. This was the second visit to the Boston area for the Winter Classic: In 2010, the Bruins faced off against the Philadelphia Flyers at Fenway Park, with the Bruins winning 2-1 in overtime in front of a packed house of more than 38,000. This time, the crowd in Foxborough on New Year’s Day would be considerably bigger, with 67,246 fans in attendance.

The Oldest of Foes: The Canadiens-Bruins Rivalry

The Boston-Montreal rivalry is the oldest and deepest in the NHL. The teams have played each other the most times, more than 900. The Canadiens have the edge in both regular-season and playoff matchups, but the Bruins have had their share of success, especially in recent decades.

In the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Bruins and Canadiens have faced each other an incredible 34 times. Here’s how it breaks down:

  • Once in the 1920s, with the Bruins winning a semifinal matchup 3 games to none
  • Twice in the 1930s, with the Canadiens winning both times
  • Three times in the 1940s, with the Canadiens winning twice
  • Six times in the 1950s, with the Canadiens winning all six
  • Twice in the 1960s, with the Canadiens winning both
  • Four times in the 1970s, with the Canadiens sweeping the decade again
  • Six times in the 1980s, with the Canadiens taking five of six
  • Four times in the 1990s, this time with the Bruins sweeping the decade
  • Four times in the 2000s, with the Canadiens taking three of four
  • Twice in the 2010s, with each team winning once

Since the Canadiens were a charter member of the NHL, Boston is the oldest active U.S. team in the league, and both teams have featured some of the greatest stars ever to play the game, these matchup numbers do not come as much of a surprise. The rivalry is considered by many to be one of the greatest in any major sport.

Both teams honored tradition in the 2016 Winter Classic with truly outstanding throwback jerseys. The Bruins premiered a new third jersey, brown and gold, designed to look like the ones they wore in their first NHL season back in 1924-25. The Canadiens also showcased a new third jersey design, featuring their primary logo from the 1920s.

The Montreal Canadiens-Boston Bruins Winter Classic: The Game

For the most part, the previous Winter Classics had been close affairs. In 2015, the Washington Capitals nipped the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 with a last-minute goal; in 2014, the Toronto Maple Leafs edged the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 in a shootout; and all but one of the earlier games had been decided by a single goal.

Such was not to be the case in 2016.

Just over one minute into the first period, David Desharnais scored for the Canadiens to make it 1-0. Montreal added two more goals in the second period with scores from Paul Byron and Brendan Gallagher. Early in the third, the Bruins finally got on the scoreboard with a goal from Matt Beleskey, making it 3-1, Montreal. But that was as close as the game was going to get. Goals by Max Pacioretty and Byron made the final score 5-1, Montreal — easily the most one-sided game in the history of the Winter Classic. All six goals in the game were full-strength goals.

The very reliable Boston goalie, Tuukka Rask, took the loss hard, but truth be told, the Boston defense was not at its best that afternoon, as the Bruins admitted after the game.

Win, lose or draw, any matchup between these two teams is a win-win for hockey fans.