TORONTO (CP) ó Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final averaged 2,608,000 viewers on CBC, down from last year and less than the Toronto-Montreal regular-season finale.
In 2006, the first game of the final between Edmonton and Carolina averaged 3.033 million viewers. In 2004, Game 1 of Calgary-Tampa Bay averaged 3.063 million viewers.
Anaheim opened this yearís final by defeating visiting Ottawa 3-2.
Monday nightís audience fell short of the regular-season record 2.81 million the Leafs and Canadiens drew on a Saturday night in their season finale last month.
In contrast, Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final between Ottawa and Buffalo averaged 1.376 million.
This yearís game had a 1.7 cable rating in Los Angeles (95,000 households), Versusí best NHL rating in that market. The game had a 0.7 cable rating in Chicago, 0.6 in Boston and 0.3 in New York, but had a 3.9 in Buffalo, 2.2 in Denver and 2.0 in Pittsburgh.
Versus, which is available to 72 million homes, also was slated to televise Game 2 Wednesday night, with the remainder of the series on NBC.
The rating for Sundayís rain-interrupted and rain-shortened Indy 500 on ABC dropped 16 percent, to 4.3 from 5.1 last year. The Indy race aired from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. EDT and 6 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. NASCARís Coca-Cola 600, televised by Fox from 5:45 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. EDT, had a 4.5 rating, down 12 percent from last yearís 5.1. The Coca-Cola 600 has had a larger TV audience than the Indy 500 for seven straight years.
The highest CBC audience for a Stanley Cup final was 4.957 million for Game 7 of the Canucks-Rangers series on June 14, 1994.
-With file from AP.