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- The 2021-22 NHL season begins on October 12 with a full schedule of 82 games for each team.
- ESPN, ABC, and TNT will carry national NHL broadcasts, while ESPN+ and Hulu will stream exclusive games.
- We suggest pairing ESPN+ with a live TV streaming service like Sling to watch the NHL without cable.
The 2021-22 NHL season starts on October 12, just three months after the conclusion of the most recent Stanley Cup Finals. ESPN, ABC, and TNT will handle national NHL broadcasts instead of NBC Sports this season, and select games will stream on ESPN+ and Hulu.
After a shortened season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NHL teams will return to a full 82-game schedule for 2021-22. ESPN and ABC will broadcast a combined total of 28 exclusive games during the regular season. ESPN+ and Hulu will stream 75 exclusive games, and ESPN+ will also offer more than 1,000 out of market matches. TNT will broadcast NHL games on Wednesday nights, and it will offer Sunday afternoon games in March and April.
The opening games of the season feature the Pittsburgh Penguins against the Tampa Bay Lightning, and the Seattle Kraken versus the Las Vegas Golden Knights. Both games will broadcast on October 12 via ESPN and ESPN+, with the first game starting in Tampa Bay at 7:30 p.m. ET, and the second starting in Las Vegas at 10 p.m. ET.
How to watch the 2021-22 NHL season
There are several services hockey fans can subscribe to in order to watch NHL games throughout the season. The league switched national broadcasts partners this year, moving from NBC and NBC sports to ESPN, ABC, and TNT. Local affiliates vary by team; some teams air on local TV without cable, while others, like the New York Rangers and Islanders, have cable exclusive partners.
To catch every nationally televised games without cable, you’ll need a subscription to a streaming service with live TV access to ESPN and TNT. At $35 a month, we think Sling TV Blue offers the best value for the channels and content you can access. And for an additional $11 a month, you can add the Sports Extra package which includes the NHL Network where you can watch additional out-of-market games.
Outside of nationally televised games on ESPN and TNT, you can also stream a ton of NHL games through ESPN+ and Hulu. Both services will stream the same lineup of 75 regular season games. You can see a full schedule on ESPN’s site.
In addition, ESPN+ plans to offer more than 1,000 out of market games during the regular season on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday nights.
ESPN+ costs $7 a month, making it a great option for NHL fans who want more to watch than their local team; subscribers also get access to UFC and other sporting events.