Panthers 4OT hero reveals college-type diet that got team through 6th-longest game in NHL history
A full 60 minutes of hockey was not enough for the Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes Thursday night.
Neither was one overtime — or two or three. In the playoffs, overtimes are full 20-minute periods.
Four overtimes almost weren’t enough until Matthew Tkachuk found the back of the net with 12,7 seconds left in the frame, giving the Panthers a 3-2 Game 1 win just before 2 a.m. on the East Coast.
It was the sixth-longest game in NHL history, the teams playing more than a doubleheader in one contest.
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So, how did they get through it? By turning back the clocks to their college diets.
Tkachuk revealed the Panthers were slugging Red Bulls and chowing down on pizza before taking the ice for what would be the fourth and final overtime period.
“These guys cracking Red Bulls before the fourth overtime, there’s pizza flowing. It was actually pretty funny seeing it,” Tkachuck said after the game.
The game lasted so long the team’s social media staff tried to get their fans out of whatever obligations they had Friday morning.
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“To whom it may concern, Please excuse _______’s tardiness to ________ on May 19, 2023,” a fake excuse letter written by the team said on Twitter. “As you are probably aware, our Game 1 in the Eastern Conference Final against the Carolina Hurricanes went into four (4) overtime periods, and they had to stay up late to support to Cats.
“_________’s support is essential to the team, and we appreciate your understanding.”
It was the longest game in the NHL since the Tampa Bay Lightning and Columbus Blue Jackets played a five-overtime marathon Aug. 11, 2020, in Toronto.
Florida found the back of the net in the first overtime, but it was called back due to goaltender interference.
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The game lasted so long even Tkachuk didn’t feel like celebrating. After scoring the game-winner, he pointed directly toward the tunnel in the arena, instructing his team to get off the ice and into the locker room to celebrate.
Game 2 is Saturday night in Carolina before the series heads south Monday.