March 15, 2024

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Tkachuk Ends 6th-Longest Game in NHL History, Panthers Outlast Hurricanes 3-2 in 4th OT

4 min read
Tkachuk Ends 6th-Longest Game in NHL History, Panthers Outlast Hurricanes 3-2 in 4th OT

Early on Friday, Matthew Tkachuk defeated Frederik Andersen to give the Florida Panthers a 3-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes to start their Eastern Conference final series.

The Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes engaged in a game that seemed destined to go on forever, leaving legs getting more and more shaky with every minute that passed.

Then, just as it looked like the teams would go into yet another overtime, Matthew Tkachuk seized his opportunity to seal yet another overtime and road victory for the Panthers in these playoffs.

Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final between the Panthers and Hurricanes was won 3-2 by the Panthers thanks to Tkachuk’s last-second beating of Frederik Andersen in the fourth overtime.

With 12.7 seconds remaining, Tkachuck took a feed from Sam Bennett after Florida won a battle for the puck as Carolina attempted to clear it out of the zone, and he ripped a shot from the right circle past Andersen.

That resulted in the game becoming the sixth-longest in NHL history and the longest in either franchise’s history, sending Tkachuck sprinting toward center ice to celebrate with teammates.

“Definitely, tired but I think you’re less tired when you win,” Tkachuk said, adding: “I sincerely hope you and everyone else enjoyed the game because, from what I can tell, it was a fierce battle between two excellent teams.”

Florida improved to 5-0 in overtime and won its seventh straight game on the road in these playoffs. Less than 48 hours after both teams played more than two full games of hockey, Game 2 is scheduled for Saturday night in Raleigh.

This one was over about six hours after the puck was dropped.

“We didn’t even know what overtime we were in,” Ryan Lomberg, a Panthers forward, said.

For the Panthers, Aleksander Barkov and Carter Verhaeghe scored in regulation, and Sergei Bobrovsky made 63 saves in a game that evolved into a goaltender duel as players clocked more ice time.

Seth Jarvis and Stefan Noesen scored on the power play for Carolina, who received 57 saves from Andersen.

“It was a good goalie battle,” said Rod Brind’Amour, the coach of Carolina. “Regrettably, we were unable to locate one.”

After several wild sequences in pivotal late stages, Tkachuk finally put an end to the game.

The most notable moment was Lomberg seemingly scoring the game-winning goal on his injury-recovery debut for Florida, beating Jalen Chatfield in a struggle before whipping the puck past Andrersen 2 1/2 minutes into the first overtime.

Carolina, however, was able to successfully contest the play for goaltender interference. After being bumped by Jack Drury of Carolina, Florida’s Colin White made skate-to-skate contact with Andersen before bumping him as he was on all fours on the other side of the crease just before Lomberg’s shot found the back of the net, according to replays.

Later on in the first overtime period, Jarvis, who had opened the scoring on a power play blast from the slot, came close to winning it on a loose rebound but hit the crossbar.

The game was far from reaching its thrilling conclusion, it turned out.

Before a significant portion of its roster was even born, Florida hadn’t reached an Eastern Conference final since 1996. However, these Panthers had transformed a late push to secure the final wild-card spot into a postseason-shaking moment by defeating Boston after the Bruins had amassed a record-breaking 65 victories and 135 points, then defeating a Toronto squad fresh off its first series victory in nearly two decades.

The Hurricanes, who finished with the second-best regular-season record in the league, now find themselves down a game in their first postseason series thanks to the Panthers.

For the second time in five years, Carolina is playing in the Eastern final. When it happened previously, a young core that had just ended a nine-year postseason drought received a heartwarming surprise. Though second-round exits the past two seasons on home ice dampened some of that sustained success, they had since succeeded in creating a reliable winner and Cup contender.

This time, Carolina defeated both the New Jersey Devils and the New York Islanders in a five-game sweep. However, Carolina ended up suffering a brutal loss in the conference final round for the ninth time in a row, dating back to 2009, despite having plenty of opportunities to end this one in any of the overtime periods.

“It was kind of really who was going to make the last mistake,” Jordan Staal, a captain for Carolina, said. “Regrettably, it was us.”


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