WASHINGTON, February 17 (RIA Novosti) – The thrilling US-Russia men’s hockey game that saw the Americans emerge with a 3-2 shootout win at the Sochi Winter Games was the most-watched hockey game in history for the US cable network NBCSN, the sports affiliate of US Olympic broadcaster NBC.
The network averaged 4.1 million viewers during the game, which aired in the morning in the United States, and hit a peak of 6.4 million viewers when the game went into an eight-round shootout that became the most-watched half-hour of television in network history, NBCSN said in a statement.
The group-play battle between the former Cold War foes was mired in controversy, with the Russians believing they had scored a game-winner when Fedor Tyutin hit a fierce slapshot from the left-side boards.
The officials, however, denied the goal on the grounds that the net had earlier been knocked off its moorings, a ruling that sparked outrage among Russian fans and officials.
The US team went on to win the shootout behind four goals from T.J. Oshie of the National Hockey League’s St. Louis Blues, who earned praise from top American officials, including US President Barack Obama.
Russian President Vladimir Putin was among the fans in attendance at the Bolshoi Ice Dome in Sochi for the game, which was deemed by many to be an Olympic classic.
NBCSN’s previous viewership record for a hockey game came during Game 3 of the 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Finals between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Boston Bruins, a duel that drew an average audience of 4 million.