Unlike their two most recent meetings, Friday's convincing 5-1 victory by Montreal over the hometown Boston Bruins was never in doubt.
David Desharnais, as he had in a 4-2 win at Boston on Oct. 10, opened the scoring Friday outdoors at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., to snap a 23-game goal drought. Max Pacioretty's team-leading 16th goal in the third period extended the Canadiens' lead to 4-1 and followed a second-period assist to give him eight multi-point performances this season.
Here are five other storylines from the eighth NHL Winter Classic:
Mike Condon continued a stretch of strong play in place of injured Canadiens goalie Carey Price, improving to 11-9-3 on the season by stopping 27 of 28 shots. Condon, who grew up in Holliston, Mass., about 48 kilometres (30 miles) from Boston, made his biggest stop on Bruins forward Ryan Spooner with a spectacular glove save with 0.1 seconds left in the second period.
He also denied Patrice Bergeron from in close and turned aside 24 shots in the second and third periods after facing just three shots in the first 20 minutes.
Brendan Gallagher returned to the Montreal lineup early and made an immediate impact, scoring a goal and setting up Max Pacioretty for his team-leading 16th of the season. He also proved a handful for Zdeno Chara and other Boston defencemen with his aggressive play in the crease area. Gallagher, who was supposed to be out of the lineup at least six weeks following surgery to repair two fractured fingers on his left hand after he blocked a Johnny Boychuk shot on Nov. 22, finished Friday's game with three shots and a blocked shot in 18 minutes 12 seconds of ice time.
Clearly, the outdoor setting of Friday's Winter Classic agreed with Canadiens fourth-line left-winger Paul Byron, who scored twice in one game for only the second time in his five-plus seasons in the NHL. He gave Montreal a 2-0 lead two minutes into the second period, beating Boston goalie Tuukka Rask from the slot for his sixth goal of the season. He also found the back of the net at 18:28 of the third, matching his career high with Calgary in the 2013-14 season.
What a day for Paul Byron. Waiver pick-up, comes to Montréal, plays well, and is the difference maker in the Winter Classic.— @MTLDriveFor25
For two periods, the Canadiens had the best answer for the NHL's top power play this season. They stayed out of the penalty box. In the second, Montreal's Lars Eller, Nathan Beaulieu and Tomas Plekanec took penalties, allowing Boston the chance to improve upon a power play that was clicking at 29.4 per cent on the season and 35.1 per cent on home ice. But the Habs managed to keep the Bruins to the outside for the most part while goalie Mike Condon came up big several times.
Subban and Condon after the game pic.twitter.com/IklGKuFzkC— @myregularface
Montreal's 5-1 victory at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., is the sixth win by the visiting team in eight NHL Winter Classics. It is also the largest margin of victory as five of the contests have been decided by one goal, with two going to a shootout and another to overtime. The Canadiens were the faster, more aggressive team early on and didn't look back after establishing a 3-0 lead after two periods. Only once in its previous eight games had Montreal scored more than two goals.