One game, seven hours, and a goal that Flyers’ fans will never forget. How many cups of coffee were required to see it through til the end? That’s another story. Keith Primeau ended the longest Flyers’ playoff overtime game, a 5OT thriller, with a blistering wrist shot to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1 and tie the series at two games apiece.
Both teams showed fatigue from playing over 152 minutes of hockey, two full games and then some. At the time, it was the longest NHL game since March of 1936, the third-longest in history. On March 24, 1936, Detroit beat the Montreal Maroons 1-0 in an overtime game that lasted 116 minutes, 30 seconds. Both goalies were exceptional. Ron Tugnutt stopped 70 of 72 shots, while rookie Brian Boucher made 57 saves in the winning effort.
The scoring started with the Penguins getting on the board first, as Alexi Kovalev scored on a blast just inside the blue line at 2:22 into the game. That would be all the scoring there was until the third perioid when John LeClair tied it up on the power play. His fifth goal of the playoffs at 4:47 got the Flyers tied, albeit with some controversy. Referee Rob Shick called upstairs for a video review of the goal and NHL officials ruled that the replays were inconclusive. The Penguins contested that LeClair's stick was above the crossbar when it touched the puck before going in past goalie Tugnutt. Some replays even appeared to have the puck tipped by Penguins defenseman Bob Boughner, but regardless, the game was 1-1 heading into overtime.
Just thirty seconds into OT, the Flyers’ Daymond Langkow could have saved everyone the next pot of coffee as he beat Tugnutt, but rang the puck off the crossbar. In the second overtime, the Penguins picked up the offensive pressure as Kovalev fired one off the right post just two minutes in. In the third overtime, there were three power plays given, two to Pittsburgh, however no one could bang home the game. In the fourth overtime, both teams were starting to tire as they could only manage 19 shots – the Flyers 10, the Penguins 9. The Penguins came out and carried the play in the fifth OT, as star Jaromir Jagr had a number of chances including a whipping backhand shot in the slot, but Flyers’ goalie Brian Boucher was there to nullify the opportunity.
Then, at 12:01, Primeau took a pass from defenseman Dan McGillis and raced down the right wing side on his backhand. He cut back against the grain to his forehand, causing Pittsburgh defenseman Darius Kasparaitis to spin as he offered a weak pokecheck. Keith fired a wrist shot over the right shoulder of Pittsburgh goalie Tugnutt and ended the marathon giving the Flyers the 2-1 victory.
The victory by the Flyers continued the series' jinx on home ice as the visiting team had won all four games to that point, but the Flyers went on to win the next two games and win the series 4-2.
Mike Watson is a contributing writer for Flyerdelphia. Follow him on twitter @Mwats_99