When Patrick Kane scored the game-clinching goal for the Chicago Blackhawks in overtime last night, it took almost everyone on the ice a minute to realize what had happened. The puck got wedged under the interior net padding and slipped out of view, and Kane was the only one celebrating. No one lit the lamp, and the officials didn't signal for a goal.

You have to wonder whether NBC officials had the same reaction when they looked at last night's hockey ratings. Did they hesitate a moment before the numbers sank in?

Not that hockey ratings are even close to the level that other sports enjoy, but last night's deciding game in the Stanley Cup Final was a relative victory for NBC, which took a gamble on hockey back in 2004. After years of paltry showings, last night's game drew the best ratings for a Stanley Cup Final match in 36 years.

NBC Sports says Game 6 between the Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers scored an overnight rating of 5.8 and a 10 share. That's a 41% improvement over last year's Detroit Red Wings-Pittsburgh Penguins matchup. Sorry, Sidney Crosby.

General Electric (NYSE: GE)-owned NBC doesn't pay to broadcast NHL games; instead, it splits ad revenue with the league. That has to make last night's ratings success all the sweeter for the network.

NBC's future parent, though, probably has some mixed feelings today. Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) -- which is set to take a majority interest in NBC parent company NBC Universal, pending regulatory approval -- owns Versus, which is the NHL's other leading U.S. broadcast partner, along with NBC. But Comcast also owns the Flyers. Better luck next year, guys.

Your turn, Fools: Did you watch the game? What did you think of the coverage? Do you think hockey viewership is on the upswing? Will having NBC and Versus under the same roof be a good thing for the sport? Face off in the comments box below.

As a longtime Red Wings fan, Fool online editor Adrian Rush grudgingly congratulates the Blackhawks and hopes Marian Hossa is finally happy. He doesn't own shares of the companies mentioned in this story. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. The Fool's disclosure policy once scored a penalty shot on Patrick Roy. No, really.