Pens, Sabres to play outdoor game Jan. 1

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Get ready for an NHL big chill on New Year's Day: Penguins at Sabres in an outdoor game at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

The league is set to announce next week that the Buffalo Sabres will host the Pittsburgh Penguins, a person familiar with the event told The Associated Press, in what would be the NHL's second outdoor game.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the NHL has not made the announcement official.

The NHL said Thursday it will "make a major announcement concerning a special event" at a news conference at the stadium Monday.

Several media outlets, including The Buffalo News, cited unidentified sources in reporting the planned outdoor game earlier this month.

The league's first outdoor game was at Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium on Nov. 22, 2003, when 57,167 fans showed up to see the Canadiens beat the Oilers 4-3.

Ralph Wilson Stadium is home to the Buffalo Bills and has a capacity of 73,967 seats for football games.

The game will cap a home-and-home series between the Eastern Conference rivals. Buffalo plays at Pittsburgh on Dec. 29.

Buffalo is considered an ideal location to host the game, and not only because of its reputation for cold, bitter winters. The Sabres' attendance has risen dramatically: last season's Presidents' Trophy-winning team sold out all of its 41 regular-season games.

Located just across the border from Ontario and 90 minutes from Toronto, Buffalo also has the potential to draw many fans from the region. It's also an easy drive for Penguins fans, with Pittsburgh only a 3½-drive south of Buffalo.

Sabres players, reporting for the start of training camp Thursday, were informed by the team not to comment about the nature of the NHL announcement.