The NHL clearly knew that they had a great game on their hands tonight, with two of its three biggest stars—Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby—going toe to toe in Pittsburgh. They even promoted it like a must-watch event!
The problem, though, is that if you live in the U.S., “It’s on NOW!” was probably a lie. American fans could only watch this marquee matchup if they were in the Pittsburgh area or had shelled out for the NHL equivalent of League Pass.
And the closed-off viewing wasn’t for a lack of availability. NBC was, in fact, showing hockey while this game happened, but it was Buffalo versus Detroit, or, two basement-dwelling teams that still get plenty of time on national TV because their two American fanbases will both watch the American channel, unlike Edmonton’s Albertan supporters.
In the very short term, that’s maybe a good business decision, and it might make for better ratings tonight (though with Crosby also on the ice, even that’s debatable). But overall, it’s bullshit. The NHL and NBC have continually denied Americans access to both Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews, the league’s two brightest young stars, because they play north of the border. In doing so, they’re promoting inferior play, and they’re actively hiding their most fun, enjoyable players.
Anyway, this desperate Matt Murray save from the second period, which kept the score at 0-0, is pretty great. Enjoy it now as a Twitter highlight:
Ian Cole scored early in the third for the Penguins, but then McDavid, with less than three minutes to go, sniped a top-corner goal to send the game into overtime. It’s only slightly less jaw-dropping as a GIF.
Pittsburgh’s Phil Kessel (another compelling character!) got a breakaway winner almost as soon as overtime began. It capped off a pretty entertaining game—if you were able to see it.