A 2011 Winter Classic star hopes for encore

WASHINGTON (AP) — When he was playing hockey on the pond of his family farm in Manitoba, Eric Fehr dreamed of winning a Stanley Cup.

What he didn’t dream about was playing outdoors in the NHL, although that eventually began to have some appeal.

“When the games started coming out and you started watching them, you definitely thought, ‘This is pretty cool, this is something I’d like to be a part of,'” Fehr said.

Fehr will play in his second Winter Classic on Thursday when he and the Washington Capitals face the Chicago Blackhawks. He already is part of NHL outdoor hockey lore because of the 2011 game in Pittsburgh. He scored two goals, including the winner, to send the Capitals past the Penguins.

“He had the performance we all wanted to have,” forward Brooks Laich said. “He had the game we all wanted to have.”

Fehr scored on a wraparound after Marc-Andre Fleury gave the puck away. Then he had the winner on a breakaway.

“It’s still a regular-season game,” Fehr said. “Obviously it was a bit of a bigger stage, but at the end of the day it was just two goals.”

Those two goals of his 80 in the NHL with the Capitals and Winnipeg Jets are the ones most people remember about Fehr. In the rain at Heinz Field, the 2003 first-round pick had something of a coming out party.

“It definitely put him on the map for some people that didn’t necessarily know Fehrsie before,” defenseman Karl Alzner said. “It’s a tough act to follow, but if anyone can do it, I would put money on him to battle hard for it.”

Fehr thanked the bad ice for that night.

“It was a different game,” he said. “It wasn’t a game like most.”

Sun is forecast for Thursday’s game at Nationals Park, so the 29-year-old forward isn’t promising an encore.

“We’re going to let everybody else get in there and get some goals and I’m going to try to fly under the radar,” he said.

Fehr has battled shoulder problems for years. He was twice a 50-goal scorer in the Western Hockey League and twice a 20-goal scorer in the American Hockey League. He has two goals in his past three games.

“He’s a guy that can all of a sudden step up,” Laich said. “It’s almost like a home-run hitter can step up and just crack one. He’s got that game-breaking sort of ability to score.”

Defenseman Mike Green recalls how Fehr scored those goals four years ago in Pittsburgh.

“He’s one of those players that’s sort of in the weeds,” he said. “But when he needs to step up and play in big games, he does.”

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