by Kurt Dusterberg / NHL.com Independent Correspondent
May 19, 2023
RALEIGH, N.C. — Matthew Tkachuk scored with 13 seconds remaining in the fourth overtime, and the Florida Panthers won their seventh straight on the road in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, 3-2 against the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final at PNC Arena on Thursday.
Sam Bennett picked up the puck along the wall after Jaccob Slavin‘s clearing attempt hit the referee and passed to Tkachuk in the right face-off circle for the game-winning goal.
It was the sixth-longest game in Stanley Cup Playoffs history (79:47 of OT length), and the longest in franchise history for each team.
“Probably my favorite [goal] so far in my life,” Tkachuk said. “Big to not let it go to five overtimes there. [Sergei Bobrovsky] played great, everybody followed. Total team effort for two games, basically.”
Bobrovsky made 63 saves, and Aleksander Barkov and Carter Verhaeghe each had a goal and an assist for the Panthers, the second wild card from the East.
Florida is 5-0 in overtime in the postseason.
“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.”
Frederik Andersen made 57 saves, and Seth Jarvis had a goal and an assist for the Hurricanes, the No. 1 seed in the Metropolitan Division.
Game 2 of the best-of-7 series is here Saturday.
“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.”
Ryan Lomberg, who missed the previous eight games with an upper-body injury, thought he won it at 2:35 of the first overtime when he stripped Jalen Chatfield of the puck in the slot, spun and scored. But a video review determined Colin White had a significant presence in the crease and made incidental contact with Andersen, impairing his ability to play his position.
Jarvis then came close to scoring the game-winner at 12:31 on a power play when his shot from in front went off the crossbar.
“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.”
Bobrovsky made 34 saves across the overtimes, including stopping Jarvis off the rush at 14:54 of the fourth overtime and making a right pad save on Sebastian Aho‘s rebound attempt at the left post with 1:11 remaining.
“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 about mental, you don’t think, your focus is completely on the game.”
Carolina took a 1-0 lead on a power-play goal with 12 seconds remaining in the first period. Aho held the puck near the right post before passing to Jarvis for a one-timer glove side from the high slot four seconds after a 5-on-3 ended.
Barkov tied it 1-1 at 15:28 of the second period, scoring glove side from the left circle after receiving a pass by Anthony Duclair from the right half wall.
Verhaeghe pushed it to 2-1 at 17:43 when he gathered the puck at the goal line before curling into the right circle and scoring on a wrist shot off the left post at 17:43.
Stefan Noesen tied it 2-2 at 3:47 of the third period on a power play. Jarvis took a backhand feed from Martin Necas and made a one-touch pass to Noesen, who scored from below the right circle.
“That’s a great team over there,” Tkachuk said. “What I’m seeing is two really great teams fighting it out for every inch. It’s little battles that, maybe people don’t realize, but they’re very important and both teams are doing it all game long.”
NOTES: Panthers defenseman Brandon Montour played 57:56 and Hurricanes defenseman Brent Burns played 54:43. Each led his respective team. … Bobrovsky’s 63 saves set a Florida record. … Carolina forward Paul Stastny was the only skater on either team without a shot on goal. … Hurricanes forward Teuvo Teravainen had one shot on goal, one hit, one blocked shot and was minus-2 in 37:28 after sustaining a fractured left hand in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the New York Islanders. … It was Andersen’s first lost of the postseason; he entered 5-0 in six starts.