As temperatures started dropping during the 2012 Winter Classic, the action finally got hot (the awful start deserves that awful sentence). Fortunately, the second half of the game made up for the relatively painful early stuff.

I figure the game excitement path was ideal – early on, it’s easy to ignore the game and get lost in the “OMG we’re outside”-ness of the event (“weeee, a fly-over”), so it takes you a little while to remember that teams are playing one of those hockey game things.

Below are the big moments from this year’s Winter Classic game.

The collapse – Flyers go up 2-spit at home, lose 3-2

Early on, it looks like the Rangers were going to get smoked. They were getting out-shot, out-chanced, and bigger, out-scored. With a little over five minutes remaining in the second period it was 2-0 Philly, they were at home in front of about 40,000 of their fans, and it looked like they could run away with the night. But nope: Lundqvist.

King Henrik made some huge saves to keep the game close, not the least of which were stops on Giroux and Timonen in the first.

And then, it happened: Mike Rupp scored twice and Brad Richards scored the winner, while the Flyers couldn’t find the back of the net again.

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The finish was beyond ridiculous

As I mentioned earlier, the game started slow, but the climax was outstanding.

Down 3-2 with five minutes left, the Flyers found themselves on a powerplay, and that’s when the big push started. For the remainder of the game, it seemed nearly inevitable that Philly would score – they were full-on foot to the floor, guns-ablazing, but they simply couldn’t solve the Rangers’ tender.

After some 4-on-4 time thanks to a Timonen hook/Callahan “dive” (debateable), it came down to the final seconds, where the Flyers pressure resulted in a near-goal, which led to a penalty shot.

Danny Briere took the shot (really Laviolette, not Claude Giroux? Fumble.), tried to go five-hole, and was denied. Needless to say, that didn’t quite fit the home team’s script.

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Marc Staal played

If you recall, last year before the Winter Classic, Pittsburgh’s Jordan Staal was hurt and trying to get healthy in time for the big outdoor game. He shocked everyone by actually making it back in time, which was pretty cool.

Well, the exact same thing happened this year with his brother Marc, who was a no-go the day before, but found himself green-lighted by doctors and trainers to play tonight.

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Brayden Schenn scored his first NHL goal at home in front of 45,000+ fans

Brayden Schenn spent a good amount of time on the IR this year with a concussion, delaying the quest for his first NHL goal a tad longer than he’d have liked.

Well, he got it in dramatic fashion, scoring the game’s first goal off a Matt Carle rebound, and it just so happened to be in front of the gigantic hometown crowd. His celebration was crazy sincere – dude had no idea what to do with his limbs.

Fun fact: the last time the Philadelphia Flyers played in the outdoor game, they also had a first-time NHL goal scorer – Danny Syvret.

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You’ll be shocked to hear this, but Claude Giroux scored a nasty goal

Even better: it was pretty clearly a Fransie nominee.

Giroux put the Flyers ahead on a ridiculous Backhand Shelf goal that few players in the League would’ve converted. Check it out:

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Rupp did the Jagr salute, and it was hilarious

After Mike Rupp answered the Claude Giroux tally to make it 2-1, he turned, faced the Flyers bench, and did the Jaromir Jagr salute. As NHL.com’s Dave Lozo tweeted, “excuse me while I LOL for ten minutes.”

Not long after, Scott Hartnell chased him down and suggested that Rupp ”show some respect, he’s a Hall-of-Famer.” Yes, Hartnell was giving respect lessons.

My take on that: Jagr is a Hall-of-Famer WHO’S 39 AND SALUTES AFTER HE SCORES GOALS. He’s perfectly welcome to do that, but everyone is perfectly welcome to mock him for it too.

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Sergei Bobrovsky let in a bad angle shot in a one-goal loss with a 51 million dollar goalie on the bench

You have to be bitter about that if you’re Peter Laviolette.

I’m not sure what he was trying to prove by not starting him – why create a rift with a guy on a nine year contract? But whatever his reason was, he left it up to Bobrovsky to make him look smart. And, while he only gave up three goals, the second Rupp goal was awful.

Wasn’t that what the leak the Flyers were trying to plug by signing a premier goalie? I’m looking forward to HBO’s coverage of this.

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It may have started slow, but by the time we got to a one-goal gime and a penalty shot with 19 seconds left, the game became an instant classic. Kinda fitting, isn’t it?