Contingency plan for Classic

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh is warming up to the Winter Classic, and that could be a problem for the NHL.

Forecasters Thursday continued to predict moderate temperatures and rain for the Capitals-Penguins outdoor game Saturday at Heinz Field, conditions that could result in a delay of the game.

The game is scheduled for 1 p.m., and the league is prepared to push back the start as late as 8. The NHL also could postpone the game to Sunday — the forecast for that day is cloudy with a hint of sunshine and a high of 38 — but prefers not to because NBC's telecast would oppose NFL games on CBS and Fox.

Temperatures well above freezing should not affect the ice. NHL ice specialist Dan Craig said the ice is designed to withstand air temperatures of up to 65 without deteriorating.

Rain is a worry because it could increase the chance for injuries.

"We've got maximum flexibility to do what we need to do to get that game in on Saturday," NHL chief operating officer John Collins said. "If for some reason it was completely unplayable, we have other options. But we fully expect to get the game in on Saturday."

However, he said, "this could take a little while."

The forecast for today's team practices and this morning's Capitals-Penguins alumni game featuring Mario Lemieux is cloudy with temperatures in the 50s. The alumni game won't be televised but will be streamed live on NHL.com from 9:15-11 a.m.

Game highlights: Joe Thornton broke a tie on a deflection at 7:13 of the third period, goalie Antti Niemi made 26 saves in his first appearance at the United Center since backstopping the Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup last spring and the Sharks beat Chicago 3-0. Niemi is 3-0-0 against his former team since being let go in the offseason. … Tim Stapleton and Bryan Little scored in the first two rounds of a shootout and Toby Enstrom had two power-play goals in the host Thrashers' 3-2 victory over the Bruins. Stapleton, just called up from AHL Chicago, went first in the tiebreaker. "We hadn't won any (shootouts), we hadn't scored many (shootout goals), so seemed like a logical choice," coach Craig Ramsay said. … Kristian Huselius scored twice, R.J. Umberger had the winner on a third-period power play, and Rick Nash and Antoine Vermette each had two assists in the Blue Jackets' 3-2 win over the host Maple Leafs.

around the league: Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf is out for at least two games after a deflected puck broke his nose. Getzlaf was hurt Tuesday when Coyotes captain Shane Doan's shot deflected off Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler's stick and hit Getzlaf squarely in the face. … Rangers center Erik Christensen, who has spent time this season on the top line with Marian Gaborik, will miss four to six weeks with a sprained right knee ligament, sustained Monday against the Devils.

Sharks 1 2 2 5
at Blackhawks 1 2 0 3

First Period1, Chicago, Sharp 21 (Kopecky, Seabrook), 15:44 (pp). 2, San Jose, Nichol 4 (Vlasic), 18:54. PenaltiesChicago bench, served by Stalberg (too many men), 1:45; Mashinter, SJ (hooking), 14:56; Scott, Chi (hooking), 16:19; Kopecky, Chi (high-sticking), 19:47.

Second Period3, San Jose, Ferriero 4 (Couture, Boyle), 1:45 (pp). 4, San Jose, Heatley 15 (Demers, Boyle), 13:46 (pp). 5, Chicago, Brouwer 10 (Kane, Sharp), 19:37 (pp). 6, Chicago, Campbell 2 (Bolland, Bickell), 19:59. PenaltiesSeabrook, Chi (hooking), :18; Couture, SJ (holding), 4:53; Boyle, SJ (interference), 8:30; Boynton, Chi (slashing), 12:26; McGinn, SJ (tripping), 18:09.

Third Period7, San Jose, Thornton 10 (Vlasic, Heatley), 7:13. 8, San Jose, Clowe 10, 19:12 (en). PenaltiesNichol, SJ (slashing), :48; Cullimore, Chi (holding), 5:06. Shots on GoalSan Jose 7-8-10—25. Chicago 10-8-11—29. Power-play opportunitiesSan Jose 2 of 6; Chicago 2 of 5. GoaliesSan Jose, Niemi 8-9-2 (29 shots-26 saves). Chicago, Turco 9-10-2 (24-20). A22,112 (19,717).

at Thrashers 1 1 0 0 3
Bruins 1 1 0 0 2
Thrashers win shootout 2-0

First Period1, Atlanta, Enstrom 6 (Byfuglien, Bergfors), 3:23 (pp). 2, Boston, Bergeron 8, 14:09. PenaltiesSavard, Bos (slashing), 2:03; Wheeler, Bos (hooking), 7:40.

Second Period3, Boston, Wheeler 9 (Krejci), :55. 4, Atlanta, Enstrom 7, 9:21 (pp). PenaltiesStapleton, Atl (goaltender interference), 6:21; Horton, Bos (tripping), 7:38; McQuaid, Bos (boarding), 10:41; Paille, Bos (roughing), 11:32; Byfuglien, Atl (roughing), 11:32; Ference, Bos (tripping), 17:37.

Third PeriodNone. PenaltiesSlater, Atl (tripping), 1:34; Slater, Atl (tripping), 14:22.

OvertimeNone. PenaltiesNone.

ShootoutBoston 0 (Seguin NG, Wheeler NG), Atlanta 2 (Stapleton G, Little G). Shots on GoalBoston 12-12-18-2—44. Atlanta 12-8-7-5—32. Power-play opportunitiesBoston 0 of 3; Atlanta 2 of 5. GoaliesBoston, Thomas 18-4-4 (32 shots-30 saves). Atlanta, Pavelec 13-8-4 (44-42). A17,624 (18,545).

Blue Jackets 1 1 1 3
at Maple Leafs 2 0 0 2

First Period1, Toronto, Kulemin 13 (MacArthur, Boyce), 15:19. 2, Columbus, Huselius 7 (Hejda, Vermette), 16:46. 3, Toronto, Bozak 5 (Kessel), 19:42 (pp). PenaltiesKlesla, Clm (boarding), 18:34.

Second Period4, Columbus, Huselius 8 (Nash, Vermette), 6:47. PenaltiesNone.

Third Period5, Columbus, Umberger 11 (Nash, Russell), 3:34 (pp). PenaltiesCrabb, Tor (holding), 2:59; Phaneuf, Tor (slashing), 6:53. Shots on GoalColumbus 10-11-11—32. Toronto 12-3-7—22. Power-play opportunitiesColumbus 1 of 2; Toronto 1 of 1. GoaliesColumbus, Mason 11-9-1 (22 shots-20 saves). Toronto, Gustavsson 5-12-2 (32-29). A19,148 (18,819).

Contingency plan for Classic 12/30/10 [Last modified: Friday, December 31, 2010 12:29am]

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