Winter Classic a ratings hit for CBC Sports

The Winter Classic was a hit in Canada as well.

The Winter Classic was a hit in Canada as well.

A day after NBC reported the largest hockey-viewing audience in more than a decade watched the outdoor game south of the border, CBC announced Thursday it drew its second-largest audience ever for an afternoon NHL game.

Pittsburgh's 2-1 shootout win over Buffalo at Ralph Wilson Stadium on New Year's Day attracted an average audience of 1.17 million viewers on CBC, second only to the 2.16 million viewers for the afternoon start that featured Wayne Gretzky's final game in April 1999.

Audiences peaked at 1,943,000 viewers during Tuesday's shootout when Sidney Crosby won it for the Penguins.

Tuesday's outdoor game, a 1 p.m. ET start between two U.S.-based clubs, didn't come close, though, to matching the first-ever regular-season NHL outdoor game four years ago in Edmonton.

The November 2003 Heritage Classic between the Canadiens and Oilers, which had a 7 p.m. ET start time, drew 2.747 million viewers — the second-highest average audience ever for a regular-season game on CBC.

Hockey Night In Canada is averaging 1.19 million viewers for its 7 p.m. ET games this season and 696,000 viewers for the 10 p.m. ET games.