A playoff series between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Boston Bruins was always bound to be highly chaotic and extremely exciting. Wednesday’s Game 1 only served to lay bare this truth, with the Bruins and Blackhawks going back and forth in terms of scoring, eventually leading into 3 overtime periods and a home win for the Hawks. With such an exciting game airing on network TV, hockey fans were glued to their TV screens last night, and NBC has released the ratings to prove it.

Last night’s game earned a 4.8 rating overnight. This is double the ratings that Game 1 in the final round drew last year, with the first match-up between the LA Kings and New Jersey Devils in the playoffs only earning a 2.4 rating. According to Deadline, the ratings overnight numbers are the best the NHL has seen for a Stanley Cup Final Game 1 since 1997, when the Philadelphia Flyers matched up against the Detroit Red Wings, nabbing a 5.2 overnight rating. Boston had the highest ratings share (28.1), followed by Chicago, Providence, Buffalo, and Milwaukee.

A few months ago, NBC made a deal with the NHL to air every game of the playoffs in its entirety. The partnership between the network and the hockey league actually began a year ago, but opting to air every moment of the hockey playoffs was a bold move for NBC, and one that has ended up paying off in the post-season. From upsets to comebacks, stories of triumph and stories of loss, the race to the cup is always a long and eventful journey and if you get the chance to catch one game, you should give the sport a shot.

More information about the 2013 Stanley Cup Final can be viewed over at the NHL’s site. Or you can just check out the tear-jerking promo about the final round, below.

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