The Winter Classic can come back to Texas any time it wants.
What a show this was for the 85,630 in attendance at the Cotton Bowl — from a brilliantly played hockey game by the home team, rallying from an early 2-0 deficit to a 4-2 Dallas Stars win, to hilariously entertaining (albeit more than slightly stereotypically Texan) piglet races and mutton busting — the 2020 Winter Classic had it all.
The Dallas Stars played a really strong game to earn their 23rd win of the season.
They fell into an early deficit, but battled back to skate well in the second and third periods to victory.
The Nashville Predators capitalized on a five-minute major and game misconduct against the Stars Corey Perry after he threw an elbow to the head of the Preds Ryan Ellis.
Nashville scored once on a 5-on-3, after a second Stars penalty created the two-man advantage and Matt Duchene put the puck behind Stars netminder Ben Bishop.
Then, less than two minutes later, Dante Fabbro found the net, and the Cotton Bowl crowd was restless, staring at an early 2-0 deficit.
That deficit would hold until the late moments of the second period.
Dallas had skated brilliantly for much of the period, but came up empty.
Just seconds after an ugly power play that netted no true threats came to an end, the Stars found a window – Jason Dickinson wrapped around the back of the net and perfectly set up Blake Comeau for the first Stars goal.
And that popped the lid.
Dallas was handed a clean sheet of ice and 1:12 left on a power play to start the third period and promptly tied the game on Mattias Janmark's tip-in of a John Klingberg shot.
And five minutes later, they began to pour it on – Alexander Radulov hammered a one-timer past the Preds Pekka Rinne to give Dallas their first lead, and 89 seconds later they doubled their lead, as Andrej Sekera potted his first goal in Victory Green.
Dallas would skate out the final 15 minutes in style, holding off any chances from Nashville, to lock up the 4-2 win and move into a tie for second in the Central Division.
But beyond the hockey, the atmosphere was just electric.
The game was the second-highest attendance figure in the history of the NHL. The crowd was loud, engaged and effective.
So, let's do this again next year, right?