When two teams play hockey for 60 minutes, then go for 79 minutes and 47 seconds more of overtime, you immediately turn to the record books.
But such is the nature of N.H.L. playoff hockey that the Florida Panthers’ 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh that ended early Friday morning was not the longest game ever. It was not even the longest game of the past five years.
That takes nothing away from the epic battle that played out from 8 p.m. to 12:54 a.m. But as lengthy as that four-overtime game seemed to the players, coaches and fans, it was only the sixth longest game in N.H.L. history.
It wasn’t even that long ago — August 2020 during the odd summer pandemic Stanley Cup tournament — that the Tampa Bay Lightning needed five overtimes to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets. And that game, which ran 150 minutes 27 seconds, ranks only fourth all time, behind a five-overtime game between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh in 2000, a six-overtime game between Toronto and Boston in 1933 and … well, let’s hold off on the last one for a moment.
As for Thursday night/Friday morning, the Hurricanes took the lead, the Panthers took it back, the Hurricanes tied it at 2-2 early in the third, and after regulation ended, the real game began.
It wouldn’t have been a very memorable game without video review. The Panthers scored, and celebrated, just two and a half minutes into the first overtime. But the tape showed improper contact with the Hurricanes goalie and the goal was overturned.
Up and down the ice they skated. For one, two, three periods without a goal. It was Matthew Tkachuk, finally, who scored for Florida with 12 seconds left in the fourth overtime.
The goal wasn’t much to look at: a quick flick near the net after a steal. But unlike all the other shots for nearly 80 minutes of overtime, it went in and counted. The Panthers took a one-game-to-none lead in the conference final series.
“Definitely tired, but I think you’re less tired if you win,” Tkachuk said after the game. “I’m sure both teams are gassed right now.”
Goalies Sergei Bobrovsky of Florida and Frederik Andersen of Carolina aside, the ironman of the game was defenseman Brandon Montour of Florida, who spent 57 minutes 56 seconds on the ice.
A game like no other though? Tell it to the Maroons.
In Game 1 of the Stanley Cup playoff semifinal on March 24, 1936, the Montreal Maroons faced the Detroit Red Wings at the old Forum in Montreal. Then as now, the rule was: Keep playing until someone scores.
So you thought the Panthers and Hurricanes had trouble scoring? The two professional teams on that night in Montreal managed not a single goal in regulation or five full overtimes. Finally, with 3:30 to go in the sixth overtime, Mud Bruneteau managed to put the puck in the net, winning it for the Red Wings, 1-0.
(The Associated Press article about the game printed in The Times rather primly referred to Mud by his given name, Modere.)
The Maroons, perhaps broken by the loss, fell in the next two games of the best-of five series as well and were eliminated. They played just two more seasons and then folded.
But after nearly a century, their record still stands.