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NHL makes Winter Classic modifications

The AMP Energy NHL Winter Classic at Ralph Wilson Stadium on New Year's Day is a regular-season game, but that will be the only thing regular about the league's first outdoor contest in the United States.

The league announced Saturday that the Penguins and host Buffalo Sabres will switch ends halfway through the third period to provide each club equal attack-zone time at the end of the rink less affected by weather conditions, specifically wind.

According to AccuWeather's web site, the latest forecast for the greater Buffalo area Tuesday calls for breezy and cold conditions, with a high of 29 and low of 11 degrees.

If a five-minute overtime is required for the Winter Classic, that period would also be divided in half, with teams switching ends at the 2:30 mark. In a shootout, each goaltender will hold the option of determining which net to defend. The possibility will exist for both goaltenders to defend the same net.

The length of intermissions and timeouts are subject to modification depending on weather conditions. Any decision will be made by game officials and will involve commissioner Gary Bettman and representatives of the league's players association.

Fans attending the game are urged to keep their tickets until the game's conclusion. In case of a postponement, the game will be scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

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