It may have taken 139 minutes and 47 seconds, but Florida Panthers superstar Matthew Tkachuk mercifully ended the sixth-longest game in NHL history by crashing a 2-2 tie with the Carolina Hurricanes in fourfold overtime.
The marathon, exhausting victory gives the eighth-seeded rookie Panthers a 1-0 edge in the Eastern Conference Finals over the coveted Hurricanes heading into game two of the series on Saturday.
Thursday’s opener was easily the longest in either team’s history, ending more than five hours after the puck fell in Raleigh, North Carolina.
The Florida players thought they had won the game in first overtime, but Ryan Lomberg’s apparent goal was overturned by a controversial goaltender tackle call on the Panthers’ Colin White.
Replays showed White—while being tackled by Carolina’s Jack Drury—communicating from skate to skate with Carolina goaltender Fredrik Andersen, then colliding with Andersen, who found himself on all fours with a Lomberg shot that crossed the red line.
Panthers’ Matthew Tkachuk celebrates with his teammates after scoring the game-winning goal
It turns out that the game was nowhere near its epic end.
There were other chances as well, such as Sebastian Ahu’s shot off the post in the early stages of the fourth overtime, as Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky was held off position. Minutes later, during a strong Carolina play, Jesper Fast swooped in front of the net on a potential game-winner.
Later in the fourth period, Aaron Ekblad’s shot bounced off the crossbar but failed to find the Hurricanes’ back-netting.
Fans who struggled through the marathon playoff joked about their exhaustion on social media.
A Hurricane supporter shared a photo of friends looking exhausted in the crowd, tweeting, “Guys work tomorrow. 10 minutes up to four times the extra time.
Meanwhile, in Alaska, a YouTuber known as “The Sports Beard” shared a photo of his outdoor setup, which included a fire pit, a table, a sprawling lake, and a bright blue sky.
The Sports Beard tweeted, “Quadruple OT 9:30 PM AKST.”
Fans who struggled through the marathon playoff joked about their exhaustion on social media
At least one Alaskan fan must be enjoying the marathon 1 game under a bright blue sky
The first period was nearly scoreless until Carolina’s Seth Jarvis scored on a power play with 12 seconds left in the first period. Absolute laser slap assisted Sebastian Aho and Brent Burns.
However, the second half fell to the Panthers, as Alexander Barkov’s equalizing goal was followed by Carter Verheig’s goal at 17:43 into the frame.
But the Hurricanes fought back on the third, tying the game with another power play goal – this time from Stefan Nuessen.
Much of the credit for Thursday’s win goes to Bobrovsky and the Panthers defense, who held off the tying goal for nearly seven full periods of play.
Sergey Bobrovsky of the Florida Panthers tackled Sebastian Ahu in the fourth
The NHL ends tie games differently during the regular season as it does in the playoffs.
Whereas postseason games enter an unlimited series of 20-minute sudden-death overtime until one team scores, regular-season contests have a five-minute extra frame before ending in a shootout.
The longest game in playoff history remains a six-hour overtime marathon between the Detroit Red Wings and Montreal Maroons in 1935. The Wings eventually won, 1-0, on a (very) late win from Maude Pronto.
Most recently, the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins played five overtimes in the 2000 Conference Semifinals, before Philly’s Keith Primo broke the tie 1-1 after 92 minutes into the game.