Losing Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals in the first round was an undeniable blow to NBC and Versus, but at least through one round the NHL was reveling in uniformly positive ratings news.

Versus’ average viewership of 595,000 was the best on cable TV since 2001 and up 35 percent over last spring.

The biggest attraction was Ovechkin’s ouster: Game 7 of the Canadiens-Caps series avareged 1.15 million viewers, Versus’ best ever in the first round.

NBC’s viewership was up 18 percent for the first round compared to last year.

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The numbers also have been strong in Canada.

With Versus' NHL deal up after next season it will be interesting to see whether ESPN jumps into the negotiations.