Tkachuk scores in 4 OT as Panthers outlast Hurricanes

The Florida Panthers celebrate after winning game one.

The Florida Panthers celebrate after winning game one.

Matthew Tkachuk scored the game winning with 13 seconds left in the fourth overtime to win game one 3-2 on Thursday night. The two teams battled it out for a remarkable 79 minutes, 47 seconds of overtime, making it the sixth longest game in Stanley Cup playoff history and the longest since the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets in five overtimes in 2020. Florida is now 5-0 in overtime in the postseason.

In the final seconds of the first period with Carolina on the powerplay, Sebastian Aho took a shot that was locked away by Panthers netminder Sergei Bobrovsky. Who got the rebound and passed it to Brent Burns near the blueline. Burns passed it back to Aho who set up Seth Jarvis with a one-timer to make it 1-0. The game remained 1-0 until there was 4:32 left in the second period. Anthony Duclair passed it across the ice to Aleksander Barkov to tie the game.  Minutes later, Duclair got the puck behind the net and passed it to Carter Verhaege. Verhaege circled and then scored to take the lead. Then in the third, Stefan Noesen finished a beautiful passing play to make it 2-2. Early in the first overtime, the Panthers scored and though they won the game. The play was reviewed and it was determined that Panthers defenseman Colin White interfered with Carolina goaltender Frederik Andersen, preventing him from making the save. The goal was taken off the board and it remained 2-2. The game would remain scoreless until Matthew Tkachuk took a pass near the bottom of the face off dot and scored top shelf to win the game. 

Both goaltenders were outstanding. Each time got many chances throughout the overtimes. Sergei Bobrovsky made 63 stops, including several huge ones in the first two overtimes, as well as one on Martin Necas late in the third. His 63 saves were the most in franchise history. Frederik Andersen made 57 saves for Carolina. Andersen made several huge stops including one against Brandon Montour in the third overtime, and ones against Carter Verhaege and Sam Bennett in the fourth overtime. They were the main reasons hockey fans had to stay up until early in the morning to find out who won. 

“Probably my favorite [goal] so far in my life,” Tkachuk said. “Big enough to not let it go five overtimes there. [Sergei Bobrovsky] played great, everybody followed. Total team effort for two games, basically.”

“It’s the worst way to lose, there’s no way around it,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “A lot of ups and downs in that game. At the end of the day, it’s one game.”

“At the end of the day, both teams spent what they had; that’s a huge cost for both teams,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice said. “There were pieces of that game that both teams owned and looked exactly like they’re supposed to look.”

Panthers defenseman Brandon Montour played a remarkable 57 minutes 56 seconds of ice time. Burns played 54 minutes, 43 seconds for Carolina. Each led their teams and played close to an hour. Hurricanes forward Paul Stastney was the only player from either team to not record a shot on goal. Teuvo Teravainen played well in his first game back from a hand injury. In the end, neither team was clearly better than the other. They battled it out for nearly seven full periods and the Panthers barely came out on top.

“It kind of becomes a game of attrition,” Bobrovsky said. “Just trying to be patient and wait for the moment, wait for the shot. At that point, you don’t feel much about your body. It’s more mental, you don’t think, your focus is completely on the game.”

“Obviously, we had a chance to win it,” Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal said. “I thought it was a [heck] of a battle. It’s going to be like that every game against that team. That’s playoff hockey. I’m not surprised that’s the way it looked out there. We’ll have to regroup and take it to the next game.”

Game two is Saturday  at 8:00 pm. Fatigue will be an issue for both teams in the game. The game will be on TNT. Carolina will try to tie the series up at one while Florida will look to put a stranglehold on the series going back to Florida.