Photo Credit: Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images

Edmonton Oilers host NHL’s first outdoor game 17 years ago today

It was 17 years ago today that the Edmonton Oilers hosted the NHL’s first regular-season outdoor game.

Played out of Commonwealth Stadium in front of 57,167 fans braving temperatures that dipped as low as -30 C with the windchill, the visiting Montreal Canadiens came out with a 4-3 win.

The game was held to commemorate the Oilers’ 25th anniversary of entering the league and the 20th anniversary and on top of that, it was the first-ever NHL broadcast by CBC aired in HD.

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That winter classic began a series of many others held by the NHL kicking off in 2008 that usually feature a mix of Chicago and the Boston Bruins.

But back in Edmonton before the puck drop for the game, some wily NHL legends took to the ice. Alumni rosters of ex Oilers and Canadiens featuring Wayne Gretzky, Guy Lafleur, Mark Messier and others.

And for the Oilers of 2003, they let a lead get away from them in the second period and never recovered. The game went scoreless in the first frame before Richard Zednik scored 39 seconds into the second period, before Yanic Perrault built a two goal lead on the power-play at the 10:53 mark.

Eric Brewer scored his first goal of the season minutes later at the 13:45 mark. In the third frame, Perrault and Zednik scored for the Habs, while Jarret Stoll and Steve Staios got on the board for the Oilers.

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The game entered Edmonton lore in the years that have followed with nearly every fan of the club having remembered where they sat at the game braving the cold, or where they were to watch it.

Since then, the Oilers have only played in one other outdoor game when they took on the Winnipeg Jets at Investors Group Field. Edmonton took down the Jets by a score of 3-0.

On Twitter: @zjlaing