Predators – Penguins Game 4 was a ratings hit in Smashville

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The Stanley Cup Final shifts back to Pittsburgh, but not after the Predators tied the series with a pair of home-ice wins and local ratings in Nashville hit brand new all-time highs.

The excitement of the championship series between the Penguins and Predators has gripped Nashville, with a boisterous crowd inside the Bridgestone Arena and thousands more descending on the surrounding area to cheer their team and celebrate their most recent victories.

NBC Sports had already reported very strong ratings in Nashville — as well as Knoxville, Tenn. — earlier in the series. But a new local record was set Monday, as the Predators surged to victory to even the series.

Pittsburgh delivered a 30.9 local rating for Game 4, as well. Last night’s game also delivered a 4.14 overnight rating, which topped all Stanley Cup Final games from last year, when the Penguins played, and eventually defeated, the San Jose Sharks.

A number of Nashville’s country music stars — like Carrie Underwood, Alan Jackson, last night’s anthem performer Dierks Bentley, and many more — have featured prominently at Predators games as the playoffs have continued into the final.

NBA analyst Charles Barkley also crashed the final, getting involved in a press conference Monday and ripping the NBA playoffs. He later spoke to NBC Sports during the intermission, praising the NHL playoffs and the atmosphere in Nashville.