Source: 2 periods would be official game

Updated: December 31, 2009, 7:40 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

BOSTON -- When is a hockey game two periods instead of three?

Worst-case scenario: possibly New Year's Day at Fenway Park.

A league source confirmed to ESPN.com on Thursday that it is possible the Winter Classic could only go two periods if the weather doesn't cooperate and the game would still be deemed official.

But that's only if all else fails.

The league has the same detailed contingency plan it's had in place for the past two Winter Classics. Snow threatened the 2008 event in Buffalo, N.Y., and there is a chance for frozen precipitation for Friday's game at Fenway.

Of course, the ultimate goal is to play a three-period game, but the league will use common sense if the weather doesn't cooperate. For example, the NHL could delay the start of a period by extending the intermission while waiting out the weather. The league and NHL Players' Association will be in constant communication with a meteorologist on site.

The bottom line, the source said the league would do everything in its power to try and get the game off and make sure the nearly 40,000 fans get what they came for. But just like a baseball game, those fans might have to wait out weather delays.