Where to watch NHL online

The NHL is a professional ice hockey league that operates in the United States and Canada. It’s the pinnacle of ice hockey and attracts attention from the world over. 32 teams from across North America compete to be Stanley Cup champions and earn their bragging rights for the next year.

The regular NHL season runs from October through April. Things get interesting from here, the regular season is over, and it’s into the Stanley Cup playoffs. Only the best 16 teams (8 from each conference) make it this far.

Last season Colorado Avalanche claimed their third Stanley Cup, defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning is one of the in-form teams of recent years, winning the Stanley Cup in 19-20 and 20-21. The 2022-23 season is shaping up to be a real barn burner, and you don’t want to miss out.

Amongst the favorite NHL teams to lift the Stanley Cup are the Bruins, the Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers, as well as last year’s two finalists.

Viewers in Canada

Although there has been a recent surge in streaming services and on-demand television, some would argue the best way to catch the NHL live is on cable and live tv.

  • CBC’s “Hockey Night in Canada” is a Canadian institution, it began airing in 1952, and its roots stretch even further back to radio in 1929. It’s available with the most basic cable packages and can now be reached on their own streaming service.
  • Sportsnet now bought the rights for the NHL way back in 2013 for an eye-watering $5,232,000,000. The deal is due to last until the end of the 25-26 season, they often work in tandem with CBC. They have their own live stream and on their website, you can stream NHL games if you have a Canadian postcode.
  • There are a few regional sports networks that focus on local games for teams like the Maple Leafs, Winnipeg Jets, and the Ottawa Senators. If you want that slightly more biased (and entertaining) coverage, these are your guys.
  • If you’re more of a company man, you might find yourself on the NHL network catching up with the latest NHL news. It might surprise you that they do show the occasional NHL game as well. NHL Network is often an added extra with most cable providers.
  • Finally, if you’re an American up in the great north, you might find NHL Centre Ice a useful channel. They broadcast out-of-market NHL games. This means you won’t find local Canadian teams there, but there will be plenty of American sides on the show.

Viewers in the USA

  • In 2021-22 the NHL sold its broadcasting rights in the USA to TNT and ESPN. These channels host regular season games. The Stanley Cup playoffs are split between ABC and TNT/TBS.
  • ESPN hosts over 25 games a year, whereas TNT and TBS offer a more expensive subscription package but have rights to 72 regular-season games.
  • ESPN+ is the home of out-of-market hockey. Showing up to 40 games live a week you can truly get your NHL fix here, it also functions as a stand-alone app and streaming service so if you don’t have a cable subscription this is surely the way to go.
  • In recent years there has been a huge increase in streaming services that include many cable channels. FuboTV, SlingTV, Hulu+Live TV, YouTubeTV, and DirecTV Stream are a few that have cropped up in recent years. These services often provide NHL streaming channels, and most offer 7-day free trials.
  • Our choice would be the DirecTV Stream service. It has the best channel coverage of any live TV streaming service. It carries every national NHL channel except ESPN+ but does offer many regional sports networks which help circumnavigate “blackouts.”


Blackouts are when a company intentionally stops certain demographics from being able to receive certain broadcasts. This generally occurs to help smaller regional broadcasters.

For example, let’s say you are a Detroit fan, and your team is playing the Pittsburgh Penguins, you tune into ESPN+, which is showing the game live, but you will be met with a message that says you’re denied access to the channel based on your location.

Ice Hockey fans who are outside the Detroit and Pittsburgh area are able to watch the game on ESPN+. Those inside these two locales have to rely on a regional network for viewing.

These areas can vary in size, the Detroit Red Wings take up Michigan, whereas the Vancouver Canucks have all of British Colombia, and the Bruins encompass all of New England.


The best option may well be NHL.TV. This online service allows you to watch every game. Unfortunately, it’s not available to those in the USA, but if you read on, you’ll find an easy solution.

The appeal of NHL.TV may well be its price point at $99.99 for an all-access pass. This gives you a whole year of hockey for less than a FuboTV or ESPN+ subscription.

NHL.TV lets you stream more than one game at a time, and all in stunning HD. You are also able to select the home or away broadcast, if you are pining for Sam Rosens dulcet tones over a Rangers game, you just have to select that option.

The main drawback is that NHL.TV is no longer available in the USA as ESPN+ is the new home for out-of-market games.

Using a VPN to stream the NHL

One way to avoid those pesky blackouts would be to download a VPN.

A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a cybersecurity tool that lets you pretend to be in a different location. It gives you an IP address in a location of your choice, and hey presto, you are able to access content from that location.

Hypothetically you are a Seattle Seahawks fan in the Pacific North West, and you want to watch the big clash with the Sharks. On NHL.TV, you may find that you are geo-blocked. With a VPN, you’d be able to select a server in a different country, and voila, you’re now able to watch the action.

What you need in a VPN

So you’ve made the decision to download NHL.TV, and now you need a VPN to ping your IP to a foreign land. What should your non-negotiables be for your VPN?

There should be two main concerns; speed and security.

  • Speed – If you’re planning on streaming NHL.TV, your VPN needs to be fast. Especially if you’re planning to use NHL.TV’s mosaic view to watch games concurrently. That rules out every free VPN out there. They don’t provide the speeds you need to stream in HD. Fortunately, many of the established VPNs have dedicated streaming servers.
  • Security – Sneaking around the blackouts and subscribing to NHL.TV whilst in the states isn’t something you should be telling your neighbors. You want a VPN that keeps you hidden and secure. Look for one with a zero log policy, military-grade encryption, and a kill switch to prevent your data from ever being leaked.

How to install your VPN

  1. Choose a VPN that meets your needs, check out our favorites above.
  2. Pay and subscribe to your service and install it across your devices and browsers.
  3. Log in and select a server in the country or city you want. If you are using ESPN+ to avoid a blackout, choose a different city, or if you are using NHL.TV makes sure the country is outside Canada and the USA.
  4. Launch the website in a clean browser with the cache deleted from previous sessions.
  5. You can now stream the NHL on NHL.TV or ESPN+.

Our recommendations


Our top pick!
  • Always evades internet control in the PRC
  • Keeps ahead of the Netflix VPN detection algorithm
  • Benchmark tests show excellent speed

ExpressVPN is both speedy and simple. It’s a high-end VPN that justified the price. It’s reliable and offers servers in 94 countries. Importantly, they will help you set up your VPN specifically for sports streaming if you contact their customer support.

The software comes the high-level AES-256 encryption, no logs, and a kill switch, which ticks all of our boxes when it comes to security.

ExpressVPN is quite dear if you pay month to month but if you pay for two years upfront it is significantly more affordable and they even throw in 3 months for free.


  • More US city locations than its rivals
  • Includes malware protection
  • No-logs policy

NordVPN runs more servers than ExpressVPN but they are across a smaller range of countries which is something to consider if you are going down the NHL.TV route. It is easy to install on your devices and even as a browser extension.

NordVPN offers three different levels of paid membership; Standard, Plus, and Complete. Standard includes the secure, high-speed VPN as well as malware protection and an ad blocker. The Plus membership includes a password manager and a data breach scanner which helps check if passwords and sensitive information have appeared in any data breaches. The Complete package includes 1TB of encrypted cloud storage.

NordVPN is slightly cheaper than ExpressVPN and also offers free months if you pay for a year or more in advance.


  • No limit on the number of devices you can connect at the same time
  • SOCKS5 proxy, which its main rivals don’t have
  • More VPN servers in more US cities to dodge blackouts

You should consider IPVanish if you are an ESPN+ subscriber. It has a huge amount of servers across the states allowing you to dodge blackouts and stream ice hockey as well as NFL, NBA, and MLB. IPVanish is great for beginners; super easy to install and doesn’t log any of your data.

IPVanish is running a promo. If you pay for a yearly subscription you get three months free. This works out as far more economical than the monthly or quarterly plans that are also available.


How do I watch live NHL hockey games?

You can catch live hockey on ESPN+, NHL.TV and TV services that offer national NHL channels like TNT in the USA and CBC in Canada.

Can you watch NHL games on Amazon Prime?

Amazon Prime doesn’t show the NHL hockey.

ESPN+ and NHL.TV are similar streaming services that offer live sports.

Does ESPN+ have all NHL games?

You can stream over 1,000 games with ESPN+, importantly this includes all out-of-market matches. To stream all the games you have to combine this with TV channels.

Do NHL games have commercials?

Yes, there are commercial breaks during the NHL games.

What are the best sites to watch NHL games for free?

Unfortunately, the only way to watch NHL games for free is to take advantage of when they are on free-to-air channels.

Is there a website I can watch NHL games on?

We think the best website to watch NHL games are ESPN+ and NHL.TV.

There are other paid services such as fuboTV, DIRECTV STREAM, Sling TV, and YouTube TV that stream certain matchups.

What are the NHL playoffs?

The NHL playoffs or Stanley Cup playoffs are an elimination tournament in the NHL. Sixteen teams qualify based on how many points they accrue during the regular season. There are four best-of-seven series to decide who takes home the Stanley Cup.

How can I watch NHL games on my phone?

Many of the aforementioned streaming services run Apple and Android apps, perfect for those games on the go!