Crosby headlines classic outdoor hockey moments

Ahead of the two outdoor games to kick off 2017, let's take a look back at some of the best moments from past Winter Classics.

Controversial hit, game-winning shootout goal among many memories

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby scored the winning goal in a shootout at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo, N.Y., at the first-ever NHL Winter Classic in 2008. (David Duprey/The Associated Press)

For hockey fans, New Year's Day has become synonymous with recovering from the previous night's festivities by watching some outdoor hockey. 

To ring in 2017, there's twice as much action as the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings take their Original Six rivalry outdoors in the Centennial Classic at BMO Field on January 1, while the Chicago Blackhawks head to Busch Stadium in St. Louis to play the Blues in the Winter Classic game the following day.

Before the puck drops on the new year, here are some memorable moments from the NHL's outdoor games. 

Crosby decked by Steckel

Sidney Crosby's tumultuous history with concussions began at Heinz Field in 2011.

During that year's Winter Classic in Pittsburgh, the Penguins captain took a hard hit to the head from Washington Capitals forward David Steckel. Although Crosby returned to finish the game, it is widely thought that he sustained his subsequent concussion from the hit. 

Crosby suited up two days later against the Tampa Bay Lightning but was knocked out of the game by six-foot-six defender Victor Hedman. 

Crosby missed the remaining 41 games of the season as well as 20 games the following year with a concussion.

Steckel: "I just don't like seeing the replay all the time because it is violent and I'm not a violent player." - The National Post.

Crosby ends 1st-ever Winter Classic 

Three years earlier at the inaugural Winter Classic in 2008, Crosby was remembered for all the right reasons.

In front of a then-record crowd of 71,217 in snowy Buffalo, N.Y., the Penguins and Sabres were still even 1-1 after regulation and overtime.

In the ensuing shootout, Crosby had the game on his stick and slipped the winning goal past Pittsburgh netminder Ty Conklin.

Crosby: "The game on the line and to see this many people, I mean, it's mind-boggling. The best way to describe it is the Gladiator movie." - CBC Sports.

NHL record at The Big House

The Red Wings hosted the Maple Leafs in 2014 at "The Big House," the football stadium at the University of Michigan, in front of a current NHL-record 105,491 fans.

The Original Six showdown ended in a shootout with the Maple Leafs' Tyler Bozak netting the winner for a 3-2 victory in the snow-filled affair in Ann Arbor. 

Bozak: "Flurries were coming down too, so their goalie [Red Wings' Jimmy Howard] couldn't see the puck. Maybe I got lucky with that." - The Toronto Sun. 

Lundqvist comes up clutch in controversial finish

New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist had to be at his best when it mattered most. 

In the 2012 Classic in Philadelphia, the Rangers held a 3-2 lead over the Flyers in the final minute when New York defenceman Ryan McDonaugh appeared to cover the puck with his hand in the crease, resulting in a penalty shot. 

Although Lundqvist made the save to preserve the win at Citizens Bank Park, Rangers' coach John Tortorella was enraged with the call and was fined $30,000 US for his post-game comments. 

Tortorella: "I'm not sure if NBC got together with the refs or what to turn this into an overtime game ... I just thought [the officiating,] in that third period, was disgusting." - The Associated Press.