NHL fans witnessed history on Thursday night and Friday morning. In Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final, the Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes endured a marathon by playing nearly four extra periods of hockey and nearly getting to a fifth. Florida forward Matthew Tkachuk was the long-awaited hero, scoring in the final seconds of the fourth overtime to give the Panthers a 3-2 win and a 1-0 series lead. Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky made 63 saves on 65 shots, while Frederik Anderson stopped 57 of 60 for the Hurricanes.
And yet, this game was only the sixth-longest in NHL history. Yes, there are five games throughout the NHL's century-long history that are even longer than this. All of these games went to at least five overtime, which this game just barely missed out on.
In honor of this game, let's look back on the five NHL games that somehow managed to surpass this one in length.
5. April 24, 2003: Mighty Ducks of Anaheim vs. Dallas Stars, 80:48
The Mighty Ducks entered the 2003 playoffs as the seventh seed but then shockingly swept the defending champion Detroit Red Wings in the first round. Meanwhile, the Stars were the top seed in the Western Conference and advanced to the second round with a six-game win over the Edmonton Oilers. This marked the first playoff meeting between these teams, and what a first impression they left.
Anaheim jumped out fast in Game 1, taking a 3-1 lead halfway through the second period. However, Dallas didn't quit and kept up the pressure. Stars forward Brendan Morrow tied the game 3-3 at 17:13 of the third period, sending the game to the first of many overtimes.
The two teams played four scoreless overtime periods, with only a single penalty early in the first extra frame. Anaheim forward Peter Sykora finally ended the game 48 seconds into the fifth overtime, lifting the Mighty Ducks to a 4-3 win. Mighty Ducks goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 60 saves on 63 shots, while Marty Turco stopped 50 of 54 for the Stars.
Anaheim would win the series in six games, upsetting another Western Conference titan. The Mighty Ducks would go all the way to the Stanley Cup Final but fall to the New Jersey Devils in seven games. Notably, Giguere won the Conn Smythe Trophy despite being on the losing team, marking the last time this has happened.
4. August 11, 2020: Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Tampa Bay Lightning, 90:27
This game may take the cake of all the weirdness the NHL bubble gave us. Tampa Bay earned the second seed in the Eastern Conference after round-robin play, while Columbus defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs in the qualifying round to earn the seventh seed. Of course, this was a rematch of the previous year's series, in which the Blue Jackets humiliated the President's Trophy-winning Lightning in a four-game sweep.
In Game 1 of the series, both teams refused to give the other an inch. Tampa Bay's Yanni Gourde tied the game 2-2 early in the third period, and that was the last goal for nearly two hours of game time.
Midway through the fifth overtime, Brayden Point finally scored to give the Lightning a 3-2 win. Columbus goalie Joonas Korpisalo made 85 saves on 88 shots, an NHL record. Andrei Vasilvesky stopped 61 of 63 shots for Tampa Bay. This game went so long that the Hurricanes-Bruins game scheduled for later in the night had to be moved to the following morning.
The Lightning would avenge their embarrassing loss the year before in a five-game series win, with Point scoring another overtime winner to take the series. Tampa Bay would then go on to win the first of two consecutive Stanley Cups.
3. May 4, 2000: Philadelphia Flyers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins, 92:01
Philadelphia was the top seed in the Eastern Conference, beating the Buffalo Sabres in five games to advance. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh was the seventh seed and advanced with an upset over the Washington Capitals in five games. This was the third playoff meeting between the cross-state rivals, but certainly not the last.
The Penguins took Games 1 and 2 on the road, but the Flyers responded with an overtime win in Game 3. This set up huge implications for Game 4, with Pittsburgh looking to take a stranglehold in the series and Philadelphia trying to even it out. And for such a huge game, it didn't disappoint.
Flyers forward John LeClair tied the game 1-1 early in the third period. After that, the game turned into a defensive slugfest, going over 100 minutes without a goal. Philadelphia's Keith Primeau was the one to finally end it, scoring at 12:01 of the fifth overtime. Brian Boucher stopped 57 of 58 shots for the Flyers, while Ron Tugnutt stopped 70 of 72 for the Penguins.
The Flyers won the series in six games, erasing the 2-0 deficit and eliminating their arch-rivals. They would then fall to the Devils in the Eastern Conference Final, this time coming up short in Game 7.
2. April 3, 1933: Boston Bruins vs. Toronto Maple Leafs, 104:46
The final two games on this list are the only in NHL history to go to a sixth overtime. However, they are both roughly 90 years old, so information on them is scarce. However, that doesn't change the fact that they happened and happened for a long time, at that.
These two teams won their respective divisions, which at the time were determined by country. They split the first four games in the series, including three in overtime, to set up a deciding Game 5 in Toronto.
What followed was the longest game in league history at the time. And to make it even better, it was scoreless for the entire time. Maple Leafs forward Ken Doraty finally ended the game at 4:46 of the sixth overtime.
After winning the game and the series, Toronto fell to the New York Rangers in four games in the Stanley Cup Finals. The Rangers avenged their loss to the Maple Leafs in the previous year's final.
1. March 24, 1936: Detroit Red Wings vs. Montreal Maroons, 116:30
Just a few years after the previous marathon game, another even longer one would come. This was the first game of the playoffs for both teams after winning their respective divisions.
Even almost a century later, this game remains the longest in NHL history. It was another 1-0 game, with Detroit's Mud Bruneteau scoring the lone goal at 16:30 of the sixth overtime. The goalies were Normie Smith for the Red Wings and Lorne Chabot for the Maroons.
The Red Wings went on to win the series in a three-game sweep before defeating the Maple Leafs 3-1 in the Stanley Cup Final. Meanwhile, the Maroons folded two years later due to financial struggles.