For a while, the NHL has been one of the least broadcast professional sports, but this season, the league is hoping to increase the new viewers and fan engagement. To meet their goals, the NHL ended its 16-year broadcast deal with NBC and moved to ESPN and WarnerMedia.
The first night of the 2021-2022 NHL season on Tuesday night featured two highly anticipated hockey games.
The opening game saw the Pittsburgh Penguins traveling to face the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Tampa Bay Lightening. The second game of the night saw Stanley Cup contenders the Las Vegas Golden Knights hosting the Seattle Kraken, the latter's first game ever as an expansion team.
In the first game of the night, the Penguins were without four of their starters, including four-time NHL first-team center and team captain Sidney Crosby. The absences were due to both injuries and COVID protocols. Despite missing several impact players, the Penguins dominated the Lightening, 6-2, leaving the defending champs and the fans of Tampa Bay shocked.
In the second game of the night, the Kraken looked to start their franchise with a big win over a tough road game against the Golden Knights. The Kraken started off the night hot with quick passing, but the defensive presence of the Golden Knights was stout in the first period. The Golden Knights got out to a 3-0 lead with two goals from left wing Max Pacioretty before Seattle scored two quick goals in a span of a minute and 12 seconds. The Kraken tied it up, 3-3, about eight minutes into the final third period.
There was controversial moment 35 seconds after the third Kraken goal as Golden Knights center Chandler Stephenson looked like he made an illegal kick of the puck into the goal for the Golden Knights. Referees and review officials double checked the goal and the call stood, making the final score a 4-3 Golden Knights win.
This was a great first night for NHL fans. These games are just an example of what this season of the NHL could bring.
The Dallas Stars are a team that will make a big push for the Stanley Cup, as are the Nashville Predators.
Dallas opens their season at the New York Rangers tonight while Nashville will host the Seattle Kraken (0-1).