With temperatures in the low 40s and very few clouds in the sky, the sun's reflection and conditions on the ice posed a threat to the start of the game.
"If we have to deal with [the glare] it'll be the same for both teams," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said on the NBC broadcast before the game. "It's part of the adjustment of playing outdoors and having to deal with things you're not normally used to."
Despite those concerns, after a musical performance by Billy Idol, player introductions and the national anthem, the puck dropped at 10:31 a.m. PST.
"It would be more of a player-safety issue," NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told ESPN on Wednesday. "The glare, if you're having trouble picking up the puck, I think there'd be a concern."
To combat the glare, the NHL had considered allowing players to wear sunglasses on the ice, according to NHL.com.
Midway through the first period, the Blackhawks and Capitals switched ends to avoid either team benefiting from the shadows cast on the ice.
Washington's Eric Fehr scored on a breakaway goal just over seven minutes into the first and captain Alex Ovechkin added another for the Capitals a little under five minutes later to put the home team up, 2-0.
Chicago's Patrick Sharp scored a power-play goal against Washington in the first with assists from Duncan Keith and Patrick Kane. Brandon Saad tied the game up at 2-2 in the second period with assists from Toews and Marian Hossa.
As the final seconds ticked off the clock in the third period, Troy Brouwer found the back of the net on another Capitals power-play goal to secure the win, 3-2.
The Capitals beat the Pengiuns in that delayed Winter Classic game in 2011, 3-1. In 2009, the Blackhawks lost to the Detroit Red Wings, 6-4, in their only other appearance at the outdoor game at Wrigley Field.
The Capitals (19-11-7) return indoors Sunday to face the Florida Panthers (16-10-9) at the Verizon Center, their home arena. The Blackhawks (25-11-2) host the Dallas Stars (11-14-5) in Chicago the same day.