RALEIGH, N.C. — The memories of how the Florida Panthers won their first Eastern Conference finals game in 27 years should last even longer than the Thursday contest.
Matthew Tkachuk scored with 12.7 seconds left in the fourth overtime as the Panthers pulled out a 3-2 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 1 of the best-of-seven series.
“Guys cracking Red Bulls before the fourth overtime,” Tkachuk said. “There was pizza flowing. It was actually pretty funny seeing it.”
It was the longest game in franchise history for both teams and the sixth-longest contest in NHL history.
“The worst way to lose a game,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said.
After an incredible goaltending display from Florida’s Sergei Bobrovsky and Carolina’s Frederik Andersen, Tkachuk batted in a bouncing puck for his sixth goal of the playoffs.
Aleksander Barkov and Carter Verhaeghe scored in the second period for the Panthers, who improved to 5-0 in overtime games this postseason. Anthony Duclair assisted on both regulation goals, while Barkov and Verhaeghe each assisted on the other’s goal.
Bobrovsky made 63 saves.
“He was good, but so was Freddie,” Hurricanes forward Martin Necas said. “Both goalies played great. They got a nice goal at the end there.”
Seth Jarvis and Stefan Noesen scored power-play goals in regulation for the Hurricanes. Andersen stopped 57 shots for Carolina, which had been 3-0 this postseason in OT contests.
This was the first game to extend beyond one overtime for both teams this spring. It was the longest Stanley Cup playoff game since the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 in five OTs on Aug. 11, 2020.
Players tried to ignore the grueling nature of the game.
“It got harder and harder and we embraced it,” Panthers defenseman Radko Gudas said.
The game ended at 1:54 a.m. ET on Friday. The Hurricanes will host Game 2 on Saturday.
The Panthers, playing in a conference finals game for the first time since 1996, won for the seventh time in eight road games in this postseason.
Florida’s Ryan Lomberg appeared to have scored the winning goal 2:35 into the first overtime, but the play was wiped out after a video review, with Colin White ruled to have committed goalie interference.
“We knew we were going to get it,” said Lomberg, who was back after an eight-game absence caused by an upper-body injury. “We just didn’t know it was going to take that long.”
Both teams logged 10 shots on goal in the second overtime. Andersen thwarted Florida’s Brandon Montour, who was left alone in front of the net, early in the third overtime.
The Hurricanes continued to test Bobrovsky.
“It was a good goalie battle,” Brind’Amour said. “It was unfortunate we didn’t find that one.”
The Panthers held an 11-8 edge in third-OT shots.
“It was a battle,” Carolina captain Jordan Staal said. “It was playoff hockey, for sure.”
Montour, a defenseman, had a game-high 57 minutes, 56 seconds of ice time.
Noesen’s tying goal came 3:47 into the third period, giving him four goals in the postseason. That was part of Carolina’s 9-1 edge in shots across the first nine minutes of the third.
The Hurricanes outshot Florida 14-2 in the third period after the Panthers pulled ahead late in the second.
Barkov tied the game 1-1 with 4:32 remaining in the second period with his third goal of the postseason.
Verhaeghe’s goal came with 2:17 left in the second period. His sixth of the playoffs lifted him into a tie for the team lead.
Jarvis, who was alone in the slot, posted his fifth goal of the playoffs with 11.1 seconds to play in the opening period on a power play. Sebastian Aho’s pass connected with Jarvis.
The Hurricanes had forward Teuvo Teravainen in action for the first time since Game 2 of the first round when he sustained a broken hand against the New York Islanders.
–Bob Sutton, Field Level Media
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