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NBC Shoots, Scores with NHL Winter Classic Ratings

The National Hockey League took its game outdoors on New Year’s Day, drawing the attention of many people who were indoors and tuned into NBC.

The AMP Energy NHL Winter Classic -- which featured the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 2-1 shootout victory over the Buffalo Sabres at Ralph Wilson Stadium, home of the National Football League’s Buffalo Bills -- earned a 2.6 Nielsen Media Research overnight rating and a 5 share, NBC said.

The network added that the NHL Winter Classic ratings marked the best overnight NHL regular-season rating in more than one decade.

The game posted a 38.2/58 in the Buffalo, N.Y., market and a 17.7/30 in the Pittsburgh market.

“The best regular-season rating in more than a decade is a result of the tremendous efforts of the NHL, and we're delighted by the success of this historic event," NBC Sports president Ken Schanzer said in a statement. "Sam Flood, his production team and our broadcasters also deserve credit for conveying the great atmosphere in Buffalo and producing a memorable broadcast. The Winter Classic exposed hockey to a larger audience and definitely made new fans of the game.”