Today In Flyers History: Keith Primeau scores game winner in fifth overtime

John LeClair, Philadelphia Flyers (Mandatory Credit: Doug Pensinger/ALLSPORT)
John LeClair, Philadelphia Flyers (Mandatory Credit: Doug Pensinger/ALLSPORT) /

It was a wild marathon of a game back in 2000. The Flyers and Penguins went to five overtimes to determine a winner.

Strap in and grab some popcorn, this is gonna be a long one. That turned out to be the feeling back in May of 2000. The Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins faced off in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.

Going into this game, the Penguins were up 2-1 in the series. After losing the first two games, the Flyers came out on top in the third game.

Puck drop in this game came just before 7:40 p.m. The final buzzer sounded more than seven hours later. There was 60 minutes of regulation and 92:01 of overtime before this game was completed.

It was the longest game in the modern era. Overall, it’s the third longest game in the history of the NHL. The longest game was between the Montreal Maroons and Detroit Red Wings. That game took 116:30 of overtime to determine a winner.

The Penguins would grab the first goal in the game under three minutes in. It was Alex Kovalev who would score what turned out to be their only goal of the game. It was a lead that would stand up until early in third period.

Martin Straka was called for slashing just under five minutes into the period. The Flyers would end up scoring the tying goal on the ensuing faceoff. A shot taken by Eric Desjardins would deflect off of John Leclair. Thought to be hit by a high stick, the play was reviewed. Turns out it was just coming towards Leclair’s head. So the goal stood after the review.

"“Eric Desjardins took the shot and it got away from him a little bit, [and I] think it ended up going up high and it went off my helmet. I put my arms up to protect myself.”"

The game went to overtime and was almost ended within the first 30-seconds. Daymond Langkow’s shot hit the crossbar after Leclair stole the puck from Penguins goaltender Ron Tugnutt. The game went on, however.

It went on until the fifth overtime when Keith Primeau finally scored the game-winner. It wasn’t a strong shot, but who expected it to be at that point?

Despite coming out on the wrong end of things, Tugnutt finished with 70 saves on 72 shots. Pretty impressive for a game that went five overtimes. Brian Boucher ended up saving 57 of 58 shots. He shut things down after the early goal.

Not surprising, Jaromir Jagr led the Penguins in ice time. He skated almost an entire game’s worth of minutes (59:08). Dan McGillis did skate an entire game, a total of 61:05 to lead all skaters.

The Flyers would go on to take the series in six games, winning four consecutive games. It’s clear that this game was a turning point in the series.