Panthers silence Hurricanes with 4OT win in Game 1

Matthew Tkachuk scored with 12 seconds left in the seventh period to give Florida a 1-0 series lead

Panthers forward Matthew Tkachuk, left, celebrates his goal in quadruple overtime with Aaron Ekblad during Florida’s 3-2 win Thursday in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals in Raleigh. (Karl B. DeBlaker / AP Photo)

RALEIGH — The longest game in both Hurricanes and Panthers history took 139 minutes and 47 seconds. Carolina will simply remember it as a crushing loss.

After Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin was unable to clear the puck following a Brent Burns backhand up the boards, Panthers forward Matthew Tkachuk picked the puck up at the right circle and shot past Frederik Andersen’s glove to give Florida a 3-2 win in the fourth overtime of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals Thursday at PNC Arena.


“Listen, that’s the worst way to lose,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “There’s no way around it.”

The winning goal came on the Panthers’ 60th shot of the night as Andersen (57 saves) fended off 39 shots in the four overtimes. The problem for Carolina was Florida goalie Sergei Bobrovsky was even better.

Bobrovsky finished with 63 saves and didn’t allow an even-strength goal as the Hurricanes’ two goals came on the power play.

“Both goalies were great,” Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal said. “Freddie made some top-notch saves and definitely kept us in it a few times. And during our pushes, it looked like Bob kept them into it too.”

The Panthers seemed to end the game 2:35 into the first overtime when Ryan Lomberg swept the puck into a mostly vacant net. But the NHL reviewed the play for goaltender interference because Colin White made contact with Andersen in the paint. The goal was overturned and play continued.

And continued. And continued.

Carolina forward Seth Jarvis hit the crossbar on the power play in the first overtime. Jordan Staal — playing against brothers Eric and Marc — hit the outside of the post in the second overtime. And both goalies made countless heart-stopping saves that kept the clock running as Thursday turned into Friday.

“It just kind of becomes the game of attrition,” Bobrovsky said. “You’re just trying to be patient and wait for the moment and for the shot, one shot at a time. You don’t think too much ahead, you just stay with the moment and try to do your best to keep the puck out.”

The Hurricanes entered the third period down a goal after the Panthers scored twice in the final 4:32 of the second.

First, Anthony Duclair found Alexander Barkov alone in the slot and the Florida captain snapped a shot in at 15:28 of the middle frame to tie the game 1-1.

Florida then went ahead when it worked a cycle in the Carolina end and Carter Verhaeghe curled into the left circle and shot past two Hurricanes defenders and Andersen with 2:17 left in the second.

But the Hurricanes’ power play got its second goal of the night early in the third to tie the game.

Burns kept the puck in the offensive zone and created a 3-on-2, and Seth Jarvis one-touched a Martin Necas pass to Stefan Noesen, who elevated the puck over Bobrovsky.

The next goal wasn’t scored until exactly 79 minutes of game time later.

By the time Tkachuk’s goal set off a wild celebration among the Panthers and stunned the weary PNC Arena crowd into silence, five players had logged more than 50 minutes of ice time and another nine at least 40 minutes.

Both teams’ ferocious forechecking styles melted away even more than the arena ice that was battered from the more than two games’ worth of hockey that was played on it as the minutes continued to mount.

“All our game is based on the forecheck, and if you don’t have that much energy it’s a little harder,” Necas said. “But in overtime like that, it’s just about one little bounce, one goal that ends it. And they were better there.”

If the Hurricanes can take one positive out of the game, it was that their power play scored twice, including Jarvis’ fifth goal of the postseason late in the first period.

After both Marc Staal and Aaron Ekblad were sent to the penalty box, the Hurricanes fired away at 5-on-3. Just as Staal came out of the box, Burns kept a Radko Gudas clearing attempt in the zone and passed the puck to Sebastian Aho at the goal line.

Seth Jarvis drove into the high slot and one-timed Aho’s pass past Bobrovsky to give Carolina the first goal of the series and a 1-0 lead with 12 seconds left in the opening period.

Exactly six periods later, the game was over with 12 seconds remaining in the fourth overtime, leaving the Hurricanes to lament an empty-handed effort while also trying to shake off the loss in preparation for Saturday’s Game 2 in Raleigh in just over 42 hours.

“I mean, it was fun. It was crazy,” Jordan Staal said. But it sucks to be on the sh—y side of it. But we’ll have to regroup and get back at it.”

Notes: Florida defenseman Brandon Montour led all players with 57:56 of ice time and finished a plus-3. … Other than winning six of 10 faceoffs in 24:11 of ice time, Carolina center Paul Stastny didn’t register another statistic on the scoresheet, finishing with zeros in goals, assists, points, shots and shot attempts, hits, giveaways and takeaways and blocked shots. … The Hurricanes won 78 of 143 faceoffs.