via press release:
Profile America — Thursday, February 25th. The first televised hockey game occurred earlier than many may think. It was on this day in 1940, a game between the New York Rangers and the Montreal Canadiens, broadcast from Madison Square Garden. The station broadcasting to a tiny handful of television receivers was W2XBS in New York. The Rangers won that game, 6 to 2. Today, hockey games are routinely carried on national television, allowing fans to follow teams thousands of miles away, with replays making sense of some of the blindingly fast plays that mark the game. Close to 23 million fans attend National Hockey League games each year, with millions more watching on television. You can find these and more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau, now conducting the 2010 Census beginning April 1st.
Sources: Kane's Famous First Facts, 7378 Statistical Abstract of the United States 2010, t. 1208
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Note: The photo above is modern, not from the 1940 game!