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Canucks-Bruins opening game of Stanley Cup final draws big TV ratings

Boston Bruins left wing Milan Lucic is upended by Vancouver Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis during the second period of game one Stanley Cup final playoff hockey action in Vancouver, B.C., Wednesday, June 1, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

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Boston Bruins left wing Milan Lucic is upended by Vancouver Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis during the second period of game one Stanley Cup final playoff hockey action in Vancouver, B.C., Wednesday, June 1, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

VANCOUVER - Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final was the highest-ever rated NHL game for CBC, the public broadcaster said Thursday.

The Vancouver Canucks' 1-0 win over the Boston Bruins averaged 5.6 million viewers and peaked at 7.8 million viewers, shattering the previous mark of 4.96 million set in 1994 when Vancouver took on the New York Rangers in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final.

It was also the second most-watched sports program in network history, behind only the 2002 Olympic men's hockey final between Canada and the U.S., which drew an audience of 8.96 million viewers.

The introduction of a new measuring system in September 2009 has seen sports TV ratings skyrocket in Canada.

Meanwhile, Wednesday's game saw NBC record the best ratings for a Stanley Cup Game 1 in 12 years.

The American network drew 4.6 million viewers, a three-per-cent increase from last year, the NHL said in a release.

The opening game of last year's final between the Philadelphia Flyers and Chicago Blackhawks drew 4.4 million viewers.

Game 1 of the 1999 final between the Buffalo Sabres and Dallas Stars drew 5.1 million viewers on Fox.

This is the first Stanley Cup final featuring a Canadian team since the Ottawa Senators played the Anaheim Ducks in 2007. The first network broadcast of that series was Game 3 and it attracted a U.S. audience of 1.6 million.

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