Sportsnet enjoyed excellent viewership for its two NHL game broadcasts on Wednesday, which marked the first day of the 2020-21 NHL regular season.
On Thursday, Sportsnet announced that they reached 6.6 million viewers on Wednesday, marking the most-watched NHL Opening Night in the network’s history.
What’s more: The first game featuring the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens drew an average audience of 2.1 million viewers. The late game between the Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks averaged 1.1 million viewers, the network announced.
The Canadiens and Maple Leafs traditionally face each other on Opening Night. This year was no different. Toronto overcame a 3-1 deficit and won an overtime thriller by a final score of 5-4. Defenceman Morgan Rielly scored the game-winning goal.
The late game saw the Canucks and Oilers face off in a high-scoring affair. Vancouver scored three times in the third period to escape with a 5-3 victory. Brock Boeser led the way with two goals for the Canucks.
The other Opening Night Games saw the Philadelphia Flyers defeat their arch rivals rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins, by a final score of 6-3. The defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning kicked off their quest for a repeat with a 5-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks.
The final game of the night saw the St. Louis Blues defeat the Colorado Avalanche 4-1.
All seven Canadian NHL teams – the Canucks, Oilers, Maple Leafs, Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets – are competing in the “North Division” for the 2020-21 season. The Canada-U.S. border is closed to non-essential travel amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The 56-game NHL regular season is scheduled to conclude on May 8, with the goal of finishing the Stanley Cup Final at some point in July before the 2020 Olympics begin in Tokyo, Japan. The league hopes to get back to an October start and 82-game schedule for the 2021-22 season.
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