Work in Sports
PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- Keith Primeau ended the third-longest game in NHL history 12:01 into the fifth overtime and sent the Philadelphia Flyers home on an ultimate high with a 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Primeau evened the Eastern Conference semifinal series at two wins apiece, snapping a shot from the right faceoff dot over the shoulder of goaltender Ron Tugnutt.
"I'm surprised it was the third-longest game," Primeau said. "It felt like an eternity."
It was just the first goal of the series and second in the postseason for Primeau, who has only eight goals in 79 career playoff games. He scored seven in 23 games this season after being acquired from Carolina.
"We were just looking to stay patient, get a score," Primeau said. "Unfortunately, it took three hours."
The goal snapped an 87-minute, 14-second scoring drought in a game that began at 7:40 p.m. EDT and ended more than seven hours later with several fans asleep in their seats.
"I couldn't go for more than 25 seconds," Primeau said. "For that length of time, I felt great."
At 152:01, the game ranks third to a pair of six-overtime playoff contests in the 1930s.
"It's the most exciting event I've ever been involved with in hockey," said Flyers defenseman Chris Therien.
The game was 12:46 longer than Pittsburgh's 3-2 victory over Washington in the 1996 conference quarterfinals, the fourth-longest NHL game.
"If anything, it's a great feeling to win it," Flyers right wing Keith Jones said. "I lost in Washington against Pittsburgh in four overtimes. That loss demoralized us. It will be interesting to see what happens."
Rookie Brian Boucher stopped 57 shots for the Flyers, who began the day with news that star center Eric Lindros suffered another head injury in a scrimmage.
Philadelphia returns home for Game Five in the best-of-seven series on Sunday. The home team has lost each game.
"The sun's going to shine tomorrow," Penguins right wing Matthew Barnaby said. "You see your family, you want to get over it, get ready for Sunday."
Tugnutt finished with the second 70-save game of his career for the Penguins, who failed to score over the final 149:39 after Alexei Kovalev's goal early in the first period.
"This was incredible," said Tugnutt, who stopped 70 shots in a regular-season game nine years ago. "Between periods you just try to get a drink, you just started to feel yourself seizing up. People were starting to ask what period it was."
John LeClair tied it 4:47 into the third with a controversial goal that appeared to ricochet off his helmet and past Tugnutt from the slot.
Just four seconds into a power play, LeClair battled defenseman Bob Boughner in the slot and ducked as Eric Desjardins' slap shot from the right side approached.
The Penguins argued that LeClair touched the puck with a high stick, but after a video review, the goal counted.
It was the only goal in nine power-play opportunities for the game, which included three man advantages in the third overtime.
Just 25 seconds into the 30th three-overtime game in NHL playoff history, Daymond Langkow clipped Kovalev with a high stick but the Penguins were unable to pressure Boucher on the power play.
Midway through the period, the Flyers inexplicably were called for too many men on the ice. On the power play, Penguins superstar Jaromir Jagr one-timed a shot from the right side that hit the side of the net, narrowly missing the near goalpost.
Philadelphia gained its lone overtime power play three minutes later when defenseman Darius Kasparaitis was called for holding Primeau. But the Flyers were unable to beat Tugnutt.
By the time the fourth overtime started, the game was the 10th longest in NHL history and only nachos and coffee were available to fans at refreshment stands.
"We were exhausted," Ramsay said. "I mean, our players were exhausted, their players were exhausted. It was really an incredible effort by both teams."
Tugnutt already had played the most minutes and had the most saves in a game by a Penguins goaltender. He stayed sharp throughout the period, stopping a surprisingly energetic Mark Recchi at the left post off a snap shot from the left circle.
The game became the third-longest in NHL history in the final minute of the fourth overtime. Detroit needed 176:30 to defeat Montreal on March, 24 1936 and Toronto needed 164:46 to beat Boston on April 3, 1933.
"Into the last period, whatever it was, I didn't say a single thing," Flyers interim coach Craig Ramsay said. "I just pointed to them when they came on the ice who would start. I was almost as exhausted as them."
Pittsburgh carried play in the opening four minutes of the final overtime period. In just his ninth career playoff game, Boucher was up to the task.
Jagr, held pointless for the second straight game, had his spinning backhander in the low slot stopped by the rookie goalie 9:17 into the fifth overtime.
Jones gave the Penguins a scare at 11:20 when he sent a one-timer just wide from the left hashmark, but Primeau ended the game with a move reserved for a rested player in regulation.
The 6-5, 220-pound center took a feed from defenseman Dan McGillis, deked Kasparaitis in the right circle and snapped a hard wrist shot by Tugnutt.
"Primeau made a good move, made a good shot," Tugnutt said.