Washington Capitals will play Pittsburgh Penguins in 2011 Winter Classic

By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 28, 2010

After months of speculation, the worst-kept secret in the NHL is out: Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins will host Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals in next year's Winter Classic.

The game will be played at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh on New Year's Day, according to a source close to the Winter Classic negotiations.

The Penguins will be making their second appearance in the game; they defeated the Buffalo Sabres in the inaugural Classic, 2-1, on a shootout goal by Crosby in 2008 at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

The Capitals, meantime, will be making their first appearance in the annual outdoor showcase. The Capitals were finalists for last year's game in Boston, but lost out to the Philadelphia Flyers over NBC's concerns about ratings.

It's possible Commissioner Gary Bettman will make a formal announcement Friday in Chicago. Bettman is scheduled to make his annual state of the league address at 2 p.m.

ESPN.com reported there will be a second outdoor game in Calgary, tentatively scheduled for February, between the Flames and the Montreal Canadiens.

The full-time tenant at 65,000 seat Heinz Field -- the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers -- will play a home game on Dec. 23 and finish the regular season on the road Jan. 2 to accommodate the Winter Classic. It takes more than a week to set up the boards and ice for the game.

A Capitals spokesman declined to comment.

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