Theodore makes 34 saves, fashion statement

EDMONTON, Alberta -- Sporting a ski cap over his goalie

mask, Jose Theodore could see his own breath and recall his

mother's advice.

Could Canadiens goalie Jose Theodore use a muffler too?
Could Canadiens goalie Jose Theodore use a muffler too?

"When I was 11 or 12 years old, I remember my mom always said,

'Put a tuque on, you'll catch a cold,'" Theodore said. "I just

wanted to make sure she's not going to say anything when I go back

home, so I put a tuque on."

Braving temperatures that hovered around zero, and a wind chill

that reached 15 below Saturday, the Montreal Canadiens beat the

Edmonton Oilers 4-3 in the NHL's first outdoor game.

Theodore made 34 saves in the night game, and Yanic Perreault

and Richard Zednik each scored two goals to lead the Canadiens to

victory in front of a record crowd of 57,167 at Commonwealth

Stadium -- a football arena.

And that was only the tip of the iceberg as the Oilers said they

received requests for more than 700,000 tickets.

"If that's the last game that's played outside, we wanted to be

part of history as being the team that won," Canadiens forward Joe

Juneau said.

The all-day Heritage Classic followed an old-timers game that

featuring former superstars such as Wayne Gretzky and Guy Lafleur

and celebrated the role of outdoor hockey in Canadian culture.

The temperature was 1 below at the start, and players sat on

heated benches wearing special long underwear and ski hoods beneath

their helmets that covered their ears, heads and necks.

"It's like when we used to go outside as kids and play, then

come in for a hot chocolate and go back out," Theodore said.

"That's what we did tonight."

Theodore raced to the bench at the commercial breaks to warm his

hardened catching glove and blocker. It worked, as he stopped 27 of

28 shots in the first two periods.

"I was throwing off my gloves and they were putting them on the

heater," Theodore said. "We got the two points, that's all I

care."

Richard Zednik, who had two goals for Montreal, said he enjoyed

the experience, but not the extreme cold.

"At the bench I was warm," he said. "I didn't like to be on

the bench before, but now I was excited to come back and sit."

Yanic Perreault also scored two goals for Montreal, and Steve

Staios had a goal and two assists for Edmonton. Jarret Stoll and

Eric Brewer got the other Oiler goals in what coach Craig MacTavish

called a good effort ruined by bad bounces caused by chippy ice

from the extreme cold.

"It was a great day with one exception," he said. "They got

the better of the bounces."

The game started 20 minutes late as work crews tried to smooth

the ice after complaints expressed by the old-timers.

In the stands, the overflow crowd -- more than double the

previous NHL record of 28,183 set April 23, 1996, for a playoff

game at Tampa Bay _ sat bundled in parkas, fleeces, snowsuits and

even sleeping bags. They jumped up for the wave perhaps a bit more

than usual.

Perreault and Zednik each scored in the second and third periods

for Montreal. Theodore was strong in the first two periods,

allowing only a rebound jammed in by Eric Brewer for the

defenseman's first of the season.

Steve Staios had a goal and two assists, and Jarret Stoll added

a goal and assist for Edmonton.

When Perreault scored his second early in the final period, some

spectators headed home after six hours or more, despairing at the

two-goal Oilers deficit. A late goal by Staios got the crowd

cheering and dancing again, but Theodore held off Edmonton the rest

of the way.

The game was played on a rink built in the middle of the

stadium, complete with boards and protective glass and surrounded

by ice and snow.

In the old-timers game, Gretzky was unable to revive the old

magic but his Oilers alumni defeated the Canadiens 2-0. Ken

Linesman had a goal and assist, and Grant Fuhr and Bill Ranford

teamed to stop all 26 Montreal shots.

A poster at one end of the stadium featured a black-and-white

photo of a boy skating with a stick on a frozen pond, with the

slogan: "In the heartland of hockey."

"It's the biggest event in hockey. The Olympics were pretty big

last year, but this beats it all," said Lee Hrycun, 21, who

arrived two hours early wearing an Oilers Stanley Cup banner like a

Superman cape. "The whole hockey world is watching."

Hrycun didn't mind the cold, wearing five shirts topped by an

Oilers jersey and the banner, four pair of pants, a wool cap and a

huge smile.

"I get to watch Gretzky play. I never got to watch him play

live, and I get to do that now," he said. "How could you miss it?

I'm not surprised there's so many people here."

For Gretzky, a Hall of Famer, the old-timers game was his chance

to bid a final farewell to Oilers fans 15 years after he was traded

from the team and city he made famous.

Saying it would be his last game, he joined former teammates

Mark Messier, Grant Fuhr, Kevin Lowe and others from the glory days

of the 1980s, when the Oilers won five Stanley Cups in seven years.

Messier, still a member of the New York Rangers, received

permission to skate in the exhibition game against such Canadiens

as Lafleur, Larry Robinson, Steve Shutt and Guy Lapointe.