SOUTH BEND, Ind. - It's not like it was in the previous three times they took the ice outside around the start of a new year. For once in a Winter Classic, the Blackhawks were not one of the front-runners in the NHL.
This year the team entered the Winter Classic in last place in the Central Division, staring up at a major climb just to get back in the playoff conversations. That's a far cry from their appearances in the outdoor contest in 2009, 2015, and 2017, when the team was among the best in the league.
Yet that didn't change the feel of the event. A dressed-up Notre Dame Stadium shined for the event, and Blackhawks fans came out in force to pack the over 80-thousand seat football stadium against the Bruins.
Unfortunately, it ended up like the other Winter Classics for the Blackhawks when it comes to the score.
Boston twice erased Blackhawks leads over the course of 60 minutes, and Sean Kuraly's goal midway through the period was the game-winner in a 4-2 Bruins victory on Tuesday afternoon. The Blackhawks have now lost each Winter Classic they've played in since the inception of the event in 2008, as they lost to the Red Wings in 2009 (Wrigley Field), Capitals in 2015 (Nationals Park), and the Blues in 2017 (Busch Stadium).
Behind a favorable crowd, the Blackhawks jumped to the lead in the first period as Brendan Perlini fired in his fifth goal of the year to make it 1-0. It held for 4:08 seconds before the Bruins tied it on a score by David Pastrnak.
The same scenario played out in the second period as Dominic Kahun got a stick on a long shot by Erik Gustafsson, deflecting it into the net to make it 2-1. Patrice Bergeron countered that with a power play goal for Boston late in the second to tie it again.
Kuraly put the Bruins ahead for good thanks to some good positioning in front of the net. A slap shot from Matt Grzelcyk hit Chris Wagner in front of the net, and Kuraly was able to slap it past Cam Ward for the score to make it 3-2.
The Blackhawks made pushes on the Boston goal but could never get the equalizer, even when Jonathan Toews hit the post in the final 90 seconds with a shot. Brad Marchand finished it off with an empty net goal in the final minute to send the Blackhawks to a familiar result in the Winter Classic.