1 of 2
Dave Sandford, Getty Images
Buffalo's Thomas Vanek fires a shot at the goal against Pittsburgh's Ty Conklin during the NHL's Winter Classic game held outdoors at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo.

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Sidney Crosby can expect chilly receptions every time he returns to Buffalo.

Some snow, a shootout and Sid the Kid's winning goal added up to a perfect hockey day outside that will forever be frozen in time.

The Penguins captain somehow saw space between Ryan Miller's pads as he shuffled through driving snow and gave Pittsburgh a 2-1 shootout win over the Buffalo Sabres at the outdoor Winter Classic in front of an NHL-record 71,217 fans on Tuesday.

"Growing up, I played a lot outside," said Crosby, a Nova Scotia native. "When you see 70,000 people jammed into a stadium to watch hockey, it's a good sign. The atmosphere and environment, I don't think you can beat that."

In elements more suited for football than hockey, Crosby won the NHL's second outdoor game — and first in the United States — in the most dramatic fashion at Ralph Wilson Stadium, home to the Buffalo Bills.

Crosby skated down the middle, eluded a pokecheck by Miller and put a shot between the goalie's pads in the final round.

"I like facing Sidney. I really want to stop him, obviously," Miller said. "I thought I made a good play to stay with him. I didn't think he made quite the play he wanted, but it worked out for him."

It gave the Penguins a sweep of the home-and-home series with the Sabres that started with Pittsburgh's 2-0 win on Saturday. The Penguins have won four straight, while Buffalo fell to 0-2-2 in that span.

"I'd love to do it again. I thought it was awesome," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "It was good for the game. It may not be the best hockey game because of the situation, because of the weather, because of the snow, but the atmosphere was incredible.

"The hell with the cynics."

Ty Conklin allowed Ales Kotalik's goal to open the tiebreaker before stopping Tim Connolly and Maxim Afinogenov.

Kris Letang also scored for the Penguins, pushing his shootout record to 4-for-4 with a shifty, multi-move rush through accumulating snow that finished with a high shot.

Colby Armstrong gave Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead just 21 seconds after the opening faceoff, and Brian Campbell tied it 1:25 into the second.

Despite both teams dressed in retro-style jerseys, this game was decided by the most modern of methods. Surprisingly, Zambonis didn't clean the ice as they would for a regular NHL shootout even after they made appearances midway through all three regulation periods.

Given the choice of goals to defend, Miller and Conklin picked the west end to avoid the heavy snow that swirled and poured in toward the right.

Blowing winds and dropping temperatures worked against everyone inside the vast stadium that easily housed the hockey rink between the 16-yard lines. No one seemed to mind the typical January weather in western New York.

With the success of this event, the NHL already is eager to host more, perhaps even on an annual basis. New Year's Day traditionally belonged to college football, but there might be room now for the 'Ice Bowl."

CAPITALS 6, SENATORS 3: Washington, Mike Green had two goals and an assist and Washington beat Ottawa for the third time in three tries this season.

MAPLE LEAFS 4, LIGHTNING 3: At Toronto, Scott Clemmensen stopped Brad Richards and Martin St. Louis in the shootout to help Toronto win its first shootout of the season.

KINGS 9, BLACKHAWKS 2: At Los Angeles, Ladislav Nagy had a hat trick and Alexander Frolov added two more goals as the Kings routed Chicago.