Defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh and the Philadelphia Flyers, cross-state National Hockey League rivals each celebrating their 50th anniversary this year, meet outdoors for the first time on Saturday.
The 22nd NHL outdoor regular-season contest will be staged at Heinz Field, home of the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers, and pit the Penguins, second in the Eastern Conference with 37 wins and 82 points from 59 games, against the Flyers, three points out of the last East playoff spot with 28 wins and 63 points in 60 games.
"Once you get out there it's another game, other than a lot of hype, a lot of media attention, a lot of distractions away from the rink," Flyers center Sean Couturier said. "For us it's definitely going to be a huge game with the standings, how tight it is. We're definitely looking forward to it."
Pittsburgh is 1-2 in outdoor contests, taking the first New Year's Day Winter Classic in 2008 2-1 at Buffalo with a shootout victory over the Sabres as snow fell upon the rink.
The Penguins also lost 3-1 to Washington in the 2011 Winter Classic at Heinz Field and again at Chicago in 2014.
The Flyers are 0-2 outdoors, falling 2-1 in overtime at Boston's Fenway Park to the host Bruins in the 2010 Winter Classic and 3-2 to the New York Rangers in the 2012 Winter Classic at Philadelphia.
"When you first step out here, it's kind of an awe experience and you kind of forget you're playing in a game," Penguins left wing Conor Sheary said. "You get that out of the way early but I think it will be a lot of fun for the guys."
Adding to the uniqueness of the moment will be playing at night under the stadium lights. Most outdoor games have been staged in daylight.
"You've always got to cherish these outdoor games," said Flyers center Brayden Schenn. "Everyone is looking forward to it."