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Cold, but not blustery, for Penguins-Blackhawks at Soldier Field

| Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014, 9:27 p.m.

CHICAGO — The Windy City will only slightly live up to its nickname Saturday night.

The Penguins are expected to skate in 15 to 20 mph winds during an outdoor game against the Chicago Blackhawks at Solider Field.

Channel 11 Severe Weather has forecasted game-time temperatures in Chicago at about 18 degrees for Saturday night, and the next big winter storm is not projected to make for a snowy contest.

“The big stuff will come much later Saturday night, if it makes it that far north at all,” WPXI-TV meteorologist Scott Harbaugh said.

More than 70,000 tickets have been sold for the game — the fifth of six outdoor contests the NHL has staged this season. Saturday's is expected to attract the largest crowd.

About 11,500 tickets were sold to Penguins fans, the NHL confirmed to the Tribune-Review on Thursday.

The game is scheduled to start around 8 p.m., and Harbaugh said fans attending — or tailgating a couple of hours beforehand — will not experience a significant temperature drop once daylight fades.

The NHL will postpone the game if on-ice conditions are not deemed to be safe.

However, weather should not provide a reason to postpone, Harbaugh said.

Solider Field, unlike Heinz Field, is not open-ended, meaning winds off Lake Michigan will be more noticeable to tailgaters than players. Still, Harbaugh said, one team will be skating into the wind at all times.

Thursday's temperatures in Chicago were around 8 degrees.

Temperatures should reach 13 degrees Friday with little wind for a late-afternoon practice by the Penguins on the Solider Field rink. The Blackhawks will practice Friday evening.

“It will be very cold,” Harbaugh said. “I think the teams will get off the ice as soon as possible.”

Homeward-bound Western Pennsylvanians will want to leave Chicago as early as possible Sunday morning because of a winter storm that could make for treacherous driving conditions, Harbaugh said.

One to 3 inches of snow could fall in the Chicago area late Saturday into early Sunday. The storm will hit Western Pennsylvania late Sunday night into Monday morning, though WPXI had not forecasted a snowfall total as of Thursday.

“It's going to be better to be back home by the afternoon on Sunday,” Harbaugh said. “But for the game, though it's going to be cold, it's going to be not much different than a Steelers game in mid-December.”

Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rrossi@tribweb.com or via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib.

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