The NHL has announced that Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals between the Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks will begin at 7 a.m. on Thursday following Tuesday’s four hour, 48 minute marathon.

“Although many people in Chicago stayed up to watch the game, we realized that nearly 78% of all viewers in Anaheim turned the game off and went to bed shortly after the first intermission ended,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “We just can’t have that. So with that in mind, we have decided to begin Game 3 at 7 a.m. PDT on Thursday.”

Thursday’s contest is believed to be the earliest start to an NHL game in Anaheim. With the move to an earlier start, the NHL expects to add another 100 viewers throughout the West Coast.

“We believe that with an early start, this may be the most-watched game in Anaheim in history. We might actually break the four-digit mark in viewers,” Bettman went on to say. “We are aware that all of Chicago stayed up to watch the rest of Game 2, so this move is strictly to attract more viewers from the West Coast.”

Jason S. Parini