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2014 NHL Winter Classic ties for best NHL regular season game TV rating in 39 years

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About 4.4 million people tuned in to watch the Classic in Ann Arbor on New Years.

Jamie Sabau

The 2014 NHL Winter Classic was a resounding success for the NHL, as 4.404 million people tuned in to watch the Toronto Maple Leafs defeat the Detroit Red Wings in a 3-2 shootout win at a snowy Michigan Stadium.

The 2014 Classic was the second-most watched game in NHL history, behind only the 2011 NHL Winter Classic, which was aired in prime-time.

NBC's latest broadcast of the annual series earned a 2.5 rating from the Nielsen Company, the highest rating for an NHL game in 39 years and 18 percent better than the 2012 Winter Classic. The rating ties the 2009 Winter Classic at Chicago's Wrigley Field between the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks.

The TV ratings and viewership milestones were matched by the attendance on Wednesday. The 2014 Winter Classic was played in front of 105,491 fans, by far the highest-attended game in NHL history. That number will go down next year when Nationals Park will reportedly host the 2015 Winter Classic.

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