Posted by Darin Hayes on February 11, 2024
As hockey fans, we love to see a great game with the winning moments coming down the end. But how about we forget about buzzer-beaters and last-second heroics? At least in regulation for the Stanley Cup Playoff games.
In the annals of NHL playoff history, a different kind of drama unfolds – epic battles that stretch on for hours, testing the limits of endurance and rewriting the meaning of overtime. These aren’t your typical one-shift showdowns; these are marathons on ice, where fatigue becomes a teammate, and goals feel like precious relics unearthed after an arduous journey.
Prepare to delve into the fascinating world of the longest NHL playoff games ever played. We’ll navigate through decades of ice battles, revisiting the legendary clashes that pushed players to their breaking points and challenged the very definition of a hockey game. From the six-overtime saga that redefined stamina to the unexpected thriller that stole a day and a night, we’ll discover the grit, the desperation, and the enduring love of the game that fueled these remarkable contests.
So, buckle up, hockey fans, for these white-knuckle, edge-of-your-seat moments, and get ready to witness history’s most epic overtime battles. This is a journey into the realm where ice meets eternity, fatigue becomes a foe, and the clock becomes a mere observer in the face of sheer athletic will. Let the pucks drop, and let the marathon begin!
2023 Panthers vs Hurricanes Game 1, 4 OT thriller
2022-23 Carolina Hurricanes Roster and Statistics
Coach: Rod Brind’Amour (52-21-9)
Captain: Jordan Staal
Primary Arena: PNC Arena
Preseason Odds: Stanley Cup +1000; O/U: 102.5
2022-23 Florida Panthers Roster and Statistics
Coach: Paul Maurice (42-32-8)
Captain: Aleksander Barkov
Primary Arena: FLA Live Arena
Lost Stanley Cup Final (4-1) to Vegas Golden Knights
Won Conference Finals (4-0) over Carolina Hurricanes
Won Second Round (4-1) over Toronto Maple Leafs
Won First Round (4-3) over Boston Bruins
Preseason Odds: Stanley Cup +900; O/U: 105.5
The 2022-23 Eastern Conference Finals Game 1 occurred on May 18, 2023, between the Florida Panthers and the Carolina Hurricanes. This ice match was anyone’s game after the score was tied at the end of the third period. The game lasted four extra sessions as the weary skaters were on the ice for an additional 79 minutes and 47 seconds!
The NHL Playoff rules of the day were repeated 20-minute OT sessions until someone scored.
Carolina took the early lead in the first period when Seth Jarvis lit the lamp on a puck feed from Sebastian Aho and Brent Burns. The Panthers answered the call by dominating the scoring of the second stanza with two goals. One came from Aleksander Barkov, and almost two minutes later, teammate Carter Verhaeghe found the back of the net.
Hurricane skater Stefan Noesen then knotted the score in the third to create the extra periods. The first three overtime sessions were stalemates. Each team cautiously looked for an advantage and took their shots, but the defenses and goal tenders refused to yield.
2003 Western Conference Semi-Finals Game 1, Mighty Ducks vs. Stars – 5 OT
2002-03 Dallas Stars Roster and Statistics
Coach: Dave Tippett (46-17-15-4)
Captain: Derian Hatcher
Primary Arena: American Airlines Center
Preseason Odds: Stanley Cup +2000
2002-03 Mighty Ducks of Anaheim Roster and Statistics
Coach: Mike Babcock (40-27-9-6)
Captain: Paul Kariya
Primary Arena: Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim
Lost Stanley Cup Final (4-3) to New Jersey Devils
Won Conference Finals (4-0) over Minnesota Wild
Won Conference Semi-Finals (4-2) over Dallas Stars
Won Conference Quarter-Finals (4-0) over Detroit Red Wings
Preseason Odds: Stanley Cup +10000
On April 24, 2003, Game 1 of the Western Conference Semi-Finals pitted the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim against the Dallas Stars. This game was a bonus for ticket holders as it went to an amazing five overtime periods before a winner was declared.
The teams traded goals in the first period as the Duck’s Jason Krog scored, followed by a return net fire by Dallas’ Derien Hatcher. Anaheim stole the show early in the second period on a pair of lamp lighters, one from Rob Niedermayer and the other from Steve Rucchin. The Stars kept it close when Jason Arnott guided a puck past the crease to make the score 3-2 Ducks after two. Brenden Morrow tied the score late in the third stanza, and that was it for scores in the regularly scheduled portion of the contest.
Four extra play sessions went on without either team finding the money shot. This was resolved just 48 ticks into the fifth OT period when veteran Petr Sykora’s shot found its way through the interference to set off the sirens and lights. Ducks won 4-3.
2020 Blue Jackets vs Lightning Game 1, 5 OT Sessions
2019-20 Columbus Blue Jackets Roster and Statistics
Coach: John Tortorella (33-22-15)
Captain: Nick Foligno
Primary Arena: Nationwide Arena
Preseason Odds: Stanley Cup +5000; O/U: 83.5
2019-20 Tampa Bay Lightning Roster and Statistics
Coach: Jon Cooper (43-21-6)
Captain: Steven Stamkos
Primary Arena: Amalie Arena
2019-20 Stanley Cup Champions
Won Stanley Cup Final (4-2) over Dallas Stars
Won Conference Finals (4-2) over New York Islanders
Won Second Round (4-1) over Boston Bruins
Won First Round (4-1) over Columbus Blue Jackets
2-1 in Round Robin games
Preseason Odds: Stanley Cup +675; O/U: 108.5
It is another Game 1 of a playoff series and another long one to start the playoff meetings of two clubs. On August 11, 2020, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and the NHL’s neutral site playoffs, the Columbus Blue Jackets and Tampa Bay Lightning locked horns in an epic Eastern Conference first-round clash. What started as a seemingly manageable game quickly spiraled into overtime history, etching itself as the fourth-longest NHL playoff game ever.
Columbus struck first, but Tampa answered, setting the stage for a seesaw battle. When it seemed overtime was imminent, Brayden Point’s late equalizer forced the first extra period. Five intense frames flew by, with Joonas Korpisalo’s 85 saves breaking an NHL playoff record, yet neither team could find the winner.
Finally, in the fifth overtime, Point struck again, sealing Tampa’s 3-2 victory and a 1-0 series lead. The game, lasting a grueling 150 minutes and 27 seconds, left players drained and fans emotionally exhausted, forever remembered as a testament to both teams’ incredible resilience and endurance.
2000 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals Game 4, Philadelphia Flyers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
1999-00 Philadelphia Flyers Roster and Statistics
Coach: Roger Neilson (45-22-12-3)
Primary Arena: First Union Center
Preseason Odds: Stanley Cup +900
1999-00 Pittsburgh Penguins Roster and Statistics
Captain: Jaromír Jágr
Primary Arena: Mellon Arena
Preseason Odds: Stanley Cup +1600
On May 4th, 2000, the hockey world witnessed an epic battle between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, etched in history as the third-longest game in NHL postseason history. It was for the Pennsylvania puck playoff prominence between Pittsburgh and Philly.
It was a back-and-forth thriller, with both teams trading goals throughout regulation and four overtime periods. John LeClair’s late score in the fourth seemed to seal the Flyers’ fate, but Eric Desjardins equalized with just seconds left, forcing a fifth frame.
Finally, in the early hours of May 5th, after 144 minutes and 59 seconds of grueling hockey, Keith Primeau found the twine for the Flyers, breaking Penguins hearts and securing a 2-1 victory.
1933 Bruins and Leafs Longlasting Mele
1932-33 Toronto Maple Leafs Roster and Statistics
Coach: Dick Irvin (24-18-6)
Captain: Hap Day
Primary Arena: Maple Leaf Gardens
1932-33 Boston Bruins Roster and Statistics
Coach: Art Ross (25-15-8)
Captain: Dit Clapper
Primary Arena: Boston Garden
We must go into the Way Back Machine to find the two most extended NHL post-season events. The 1933 NHL Semi-Final between the Leafs and the Bruins went to a decisive Game 5 in the best-of-five series.
April 3, 1933, etched itself in NHL history as the day hockey redefined “overtime.” Locked in a tense semi-final series, Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs collided in a game that refused to end.
Regulation concluded with a scoreless tie, a tense prelude to what would become the longest game in NHL history at that time. Five grueling overtimes passed, each an endurance test as fatigue became a tangible opponent. With every shift, shadows deepened under the arena lights, the crowd’s roars echoing through the exhaustion.
Finally, in the sixth overtime, a flicker of hope. Ken Doraty, a Maple Leafs forward, capitalized on a loose puck, sending the home crowd into a frenzy as the scoreboard ticked to 1-0. That fatigued goal shot won the game but the series too, and propelled Toronto on the play for Lord Stanley’s Cup.
1936 Detroit Red Wings and Montreal Maroons Marathon
1935-36 Montreal Maroons Roster and Statistics
Coach: Tommy Gorman (22-16-10)
Primary Arena: Montreal Forum
1935-36 Detroit Red Wings Roster and Statistics
Coach: Jack Adams (24-16-8)
Captain: Doug Young
Primary Arena: Detroit Olympia
1935-36 Stanley Cup Champions
On March 4th, 1936, the Montreal Forum witnessed a hockey match etched in ice: the longest Stanley Cup playoff game ever played. The Detroit Red Wings, chasing their first championship, clashed with the veteran Montreal Maroons in a semifinal battle destined to defy conventional notions of time and endurance.
Shots on goal became scarce; every save was a monumental effort. As dawn approached, fans trickled out, replaced by milkmen and newspaper boys witnessing a historic spectacle.
Finally, in the sixth overtime, Mud Bruneteau of the Wings broke the deadlock, sending the Forum into a frenzy. Detroit held on, claiming a 1-0 victory after a grueling 248 minutes and 32 seconds. The marathon had pushed players to their physical and mental limits, but it had also ignited a fire in the Wings, who stormed through the playoffs to capture their first Stanley Cup.
The long playoff games have covered 90 years of Stanley Cup playoff hockey without preference to one era’s style of play over another. The constant has been the effort of the skaters and goalies and their will to win, making these legendary games so historic.
A normally scheduled NHL game consists of three periods.
Traditionally, NHL contests are 60 minutes long, consisting of three 20-minute periods.