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Leafs, Red Wings meet in Big House for 2014 Winter Classic

(SportsNetwork.com) - Original Six members as well as division rivals both past and present, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings have met 645 times during the regular season.

The 646th matchup will be one to remember.

The Red Wings play host to the Maple Leafs on Wednesday afternoon in the 2014 edition of the Winter Classic that is set to take place at Michigan Stadium.

The two franchises have been waiting to engage in the NHL's sixth Winter Classic, having been set to meet on New Year's Day in 2013 only to have the game wiped out due to the lockout.

They now meet as division rivals, with the Red Wings having shifted from the Western Conference to the East in the new-look Atlantic Division following realignment. The two clubs are tied for fourth place in the standings with 45 points, five back of Tampa Bay and Montreal.

That makes today's matchup an important one in the grand scheme of the season and not just for the novelty of playing outdoors.

"We all understand it's a great event and a great showcase for the league," said Leafs coach Randy Carlyle. "It's our responsibility to participate.

"To tell you the truth, as I said lots of times, it wasn't high on our list because we have lots of things going on. With it comes a lot of distractions. But, again, the most important thing to us is that we're going to go out and compete and give ourselves the best chance to win."

While the Maple Leafs will be making their Winter Classic debut, the Red Wings visited the Chicago Blackhawks and Wrigley Field on Jan. 1, 2009 and secured a 6-4 victory in front of 40,818 fans. Detroit rallied after being down 3-1, with Jiri Hudler scoring two goals and Ty Conklin making 43 saves.

Detroit has a few holdovers from that game, including Pavel Datsyuk (1 goal) and Henrik Zetterberg (3 assists) as the duo helped the Red Wings score a single team-high six goals for a Winter Classic game.

Now Detroit takes its turn to host at Michigan Stadium, the largest college football stadium in the country that is known as "The Big House." The official capacity for a football game at Michigan Stadium tops 100,000 people.

"You don't remember everything in your life, but you remember moments. This should be one. But it's way more fun when you win. It's been like that since you were six," said Detroit head coach Mike Babcock.

The Red Wings and Leafs offered a preview of this matchup in Toronto on Dec. 21, with Detroit earning a 5-4 shootout victory. Datsyuk and Daniel Alfredsson both scored in the tiebreaker and Jonas Gustavsson was perfect in the shootout for the Red Wings.

Toronto overcame a 3-1 deficit and led by a goal before Detroit's Tomas Tatar netted the equalizer with 6:16 on the clock in the third period.

Jonathan Bernier made 25 saves for the Maple Leafs in relief of James Reimer, who was pulled after the first period having allowed three goals on 12 shots.

Despite the loss, the Leafs are still 4-1-1 in their past six meetings with the Red Wings but have lost five of their last seven as the visitor in this series.

Dion Phaneuf had a goal for the Maple Leafs versus the Red Wings and will play in his first game today since officially signing a seven-year contract extension on Tuesday. The new deal is worth a reported $49 million.

Phaneuf has four goals, 11 assists and a plus-13 rating in 39 games this season and has missed just 18 games since coming to Toronto via a trade with Calgary on Jan. 31, 2010.

"You grow up playing on outdoor rinks as a kid. And to be able to come here and, obviously, with this news (of the extension) being announced, to have my family here ... it's going to be a special game to be a part of. I'm really looking forward to stepping out there, not only (Tuesday) to practice but (Wednesday) when there are 110,000 people. It's going to be an experience I'll never forget as a player," said Phaneuf.

Toronto has a chance to win three straight for the first time since Oct. 26-30 today. The Maple Leafs split four games decided in a shootout from Dec. 19-27 before picking up a 5-2 win over Carolina on Sunday.

Phaneuf had a goal and Phil Kessel scored twice to reach 20 goals on the season. Center Tyler Bozak returned following a 12-game absence caused by an oblique injury and had three assists.

Bernier helped the Leafs to the victory despite the club getting outshot 43-27. He came away with 41 saves in his third straight start.

Bernier will draw the start today over Reimer and is 1-1-1 with a 3.13 goals against average in five career games versus the Red Wings, two of those starts.

He doesn't expect the outdoor conditions to impact his play too much.

"It's actually good," Bernier said of the ice conditions on Tuesday. "The only thing was probably the wind sometimes when it was blowing, especially most of the practice it was blowing in my face. It was pretty cold, but other than that, it felt good."

Detroit had won three of four before suffering a 6-4 setback to the Nashville Predators on Monday. The Red Wings fell to 3-6-2 in their last 11.

Datsyuk, Justin Abdelkader, Patrick Eaves and Drew Miller all scored in the loss while goaltender Jimmy Howard showed some rust in his first game since Dec. 10. He yielded five goals on 28 shots faced in his return from a sprained left MCL.

"That's a tough thing for the goaltender. So the great thing about (Howard), he's a world-class goalie. He's always been good. He usually bounces back good," noted Babcock.

Howard is 0-1-0 with a 3.43 GAA in two career meetings with the Leafs.

Alfredsson was a late scratch with an upper-body injury and his status for the Winter Classic is unknown.

The New York Rangers defeated the Flyers 3-2 in the most recent Winter Classic on Jan. 2, 2012 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.

01/01 08:37:28 ET

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Schedule

Sunday, April 20Full Scoreboard
Philadelphia «4Final | Box
NY Rangers2Rink Replay
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Game Two. Series tied, 1-1.
Detroit1Final | Box
Boston «4Rink Replay
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Game Two. Series tied, 1-1.
Tampa Bay2Final | Box
Montreal «3Rink Replay
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Game Three. Montreal leads series, 3-0.
Los Angeles2Final | Box
San Jose «7Rink Replay
Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game Two. San Jose leads series, 2-0.
Full Scoreboard

Standings

2013 - 2014 NHL Eastern Conference Standings
 
Atlantic Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
p-Boston 54 19 9 117 261 177 31-7-3 23-12-6 18-9-3
x-Tampa Bay 46 27 9 101 240 215 25-10-6 21-17-3 19-8-3
x-Montreal 46 28 8 100 215 204 23-13-5 23-15-3 18-8-4
x-Detroit 39 28 15 93 222 230 18-13-10 21-15-5 17-8-5
Ottawa 37 31 14 88 236 265 18-17-6 19-14-8 14-9-7
Toronto 38 36 8 84 231 256 24-16-1 14-20-7 14-13-3
Florida 29 45 8 66 196 268 16-20-5 13-25-3 13-16-1
Buffalo 21 51 10 52 157 248 13-21-7 8-30-3 7-18-5
 
Metropolitan Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
y-Pittsburgh 51 24 7 109 249 207 28-9-4 23-15-3 20-8-2
x-NY Rangers 45 31 6 96 218 193 20-17-4 25-14-2 16-11-3
x-Philadelphia 42 30 10 94 236 235 24-14-3 18-16-7 15-11-4
x-Columbus 43 32 7 93 231 216 22-15-4 21-17-3 16-13-1
Washington 38 30 14 90 235 240 21-13-7 17-17-7 12-15-3
New Jersey 35 29 18 88 197 208 21-11-9 14-18-9 16-9-5
Carolina 36 35 11 83 207 230 18-17-6 18-18-5 15-13-2
NY Islanders 34 37 11 79 225 267 13-19-9 21-18-2 10-16-4
 
x= clinched playoff berth
y= clinched division title
z= clinched overall points title
2013 - 2014 NHL Western Conference Standings
 
Central Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
y-Colorado 52 22 8 112 250 220 26-11-4 26-11-4 19-6-3
x-St. Louis 52 23 7 111 248 191 28-9-4 24-14-3 21-6-2
x-Chicago 46 21 15 107 267 220 27-7-7 19-14-8 13-13-3
x-Minnesota 43 27 12 98 207 206 26-10-5 17-17-7 14-12-3
x-Dallas 40 31 11 91 235 228 23-11-7 17-20-4 13-11-5
Nashville 38 32 12 88 216 242 19-17-5 19-15-7 12-13-4
Winnipeg 37 35 10 84 227 237 18-17-6 19-18-4 9-15-5
 
Pacific Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
z-Anaheim 54 20 8 116 266 209 29-8-4 25-12-4 22-4-3
x-San Jose 51 22 9 111 249 200 29-7-5 22-15-4 18-7-3
x-Los Angeles 46 28 8 100 206 174 23-14-4 23-14-4 16-10-3
Phoenix 37 30 15 89 216 231 22-14-5 15-16-10 14-9-6
Vancouver 36 35 11 83 196 223 20-15-6 16-20-5 12-13-4
Calgary 35 40 7 77 209 241 19-19-3 16-21-4 11-15-3
Edmonton 29 44 9 67 203 270 16-22-3 13-22-6 8-17-4
 
x= clinched playoff berth
y= clinched division title
z= clinched overall points title
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Scoreboard
Local
Final
NOR 6
DUR 3
 
Final
MIA 99
CHA 88
12:05pm Today
NOR
DUR
 
Final
CLE 6
TOR 4
Final
DET 2
ANA 1
Final
NYM 4
ATL 3
Final
MIA 3
SEA 2
Final
PIT 2
MIL 3
Final
WAS 3
STL 2
Final
TAM 1
NYY 5
Final
KAN 3
MIN 8
Final
CHC 2
CIN 8
Final
TEX 2
CWS 16
Final
OAK 4
HOU 1
Final
LOS 4
ARI 1
Final
COL 9
PHI 10
Final
SDP 3
SFG 4
Final
BOS 6
BAL 5
11:05am Today
BOS
BAL
 
7:05pm Tonight
PIT
CIN
 
7:05pm Tonight
CLE
KAN
 
7:05pm Tonight
WAS
ANA
 
7:08pm Tonight
DET
CWS
 
7:10pm Tonight
ATL
MIA
 
7:10pm Tonight
NYM
STL
 
8:05pm Tonight
CHC
ARI
 
8:10pm Tonight
MIL
SDP
 
8:40pm Tonight
COL
SFG
 
10:05pm Tonight
OAK
TEX
 
10:10pm Tonight
SEA
HOU
 
10:10pm Tonight
LOS
PHI
 
Final
SAN 90
DAL 85
Final
MIA 99
CHA 88
Final
CHI 93
WAS 102
Final
HOU 120
POR 122
8:00pm Tonight
OKC
MEM
10:30pm Tonight
LAC
GSW
Final
NYR 2
PHI 4
Final
BOS 4
DET 1
Final
MON 3
TAM 2
Final
SJS 7
LOS 2
7:00pm Tonight
MIN
COL
7:00pm Tonight
CLB
PIT
8:30pm Tonight
CHI
STL
9:30pm Tonight
DAL
ANA
Final
NOR 6
DUR 3
 
12:05pm Today
NOR
DUR