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Keith Jones Has Front Seat To History As Panthers Win In Fourth Overtime



Matthew Tkachuk
Matthew Tkachuk

Flyers president Keith Jones played in the third-longest game in NHL history and Thursday night he broadcast the sixth longest.

That’s an amazing daily double for Jones, a guy who loves the horses.

Florida’s Matthew Tkachuk snapped home the winning goal with 12.7 seconds to play in the fourth overtime as the Panthers took Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, 3-2, over the stunned Carolina Hurricanes.

The game was a showcase for the Stanley Cup playoffs. Hockey players kept grinding, kept skating and played a disciplined game throughout. If you’re a hockey fan, you loved it, even as the game ended at 1:54 a.m., nearly six hours after it began.

You wanted someone to win, but you didn’t want to see the game end.

Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, a former Flyer, made 63 saves, tied for the 10th-most in NHL history. The game time was 139 minutes and 47 seconds long. The Panthers are 5-0 in overtime this postseason.

“This is the worst way to lose,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour, a former Flyer, told reporters after the game. “There’s no way around it. But we’ll regroup and come back … It’s just one game.”

Before the start of the fourth overtime, Jones told the TNT audience the effects of this game will linger.

“I will say there is a carryover effect from the team that wins this game,” Jones said from his “inside the glass” role.

“You feel great, you sleep really well tonight. If you lose, you don’t and the game following this one is going to be a tough one for the team that does not come out with a victory.”

Flyers in five OTs

Jones and the Flyers defeated the Penguins, 2-1, on Keith Primeau’s goal in the fifth overtime on May 4, 2000. The victory tied the series at 2-2 and the Flyers went on to win the next two games.

“It was anything you could get your hands on and there was not a lot available,” Jones said on TNT about how the Flyers handled the five-OT game.

“The arena was empty of food in Pittsburgh. We had pizza. I’m not going to tell you it was tasty but it helped. And everybody was eating whatever they could get their fingers on.

“A lot of guys were having IVs between periods to make sure they got their liquids back. You did whatever you absolutely can to win the game.”

High-quality hockey

Jones was impressed with the quality of play between the Panthers and Hurricanes.

“I’m glad that I eat a lot because I’m like a bear. I hibernate for these moments,” Jones said before the fourth overtime. “I’m feeling pretty good but the players are starting to get a little bit tired.

“But I will say it’s a little different than our game in 2000. These guys are so well conditioned. I’m looking at them on the bench and there has been a couple of occasions where guys have got there where they’ve been exhausted at the end of maybe a minute-and-a-half or two-minute shift.

“But they’re so disciplined, both teams. They’re so well constructed. They rely on everybody. I think that’s a valuable part of why this game has been extended as long as it has. The defensive mistakes have not been happening. They’ve done an outstanding job in that regard.”

Florida forward Brandon Montour had the most ice time — 57 minutes and 56 seconds, the 10th-most in history by a skater.

“I came in here tonight with a sunburn and I lost my tan already,” Jones said.

World Championships:

Team USA (4-0) plays second-place Denmark (2-1) at 5:20 a.m. (Philadelphia time) Saturday. Cutter Gauthier and Ronnie Attard play for Team USA.

Canada is 3-0-1 and will play second-place Switzerland (3-0) at 9:20 a.m. (Philadelphia time) Saturday. Scott Laughton plays for Canada.

Both games will be shown on NHL Network.

Flyers, in case you missed it:

Former Flyers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky has carried the Florida Panthers to the Eastern Conference finals.

Team USA and Canada stay undefeated at the World Championships.

Mock drafts link Ryan Leonard to the Flyers at No. 7.

Around the National Hockey Network:

Detroit Hockey Now: Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde is an assistant coach for Team USA at the World Championships.

Pittsburgh Hockey Now: While vacationing in the Bahamas, Sidney Crosby chats up some Penguins fans and treats them to lunch.

Vegas Hockey Now: Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon talks about how his Western Conference finals team is constructed.

Washington Hockey Now: The Hershey Bears, a Capitals affiliate, move a step closer to the Calder Cup.

Tonight’s playoff game:

Game 1 of the Western Conference finals matching the Stars and Golden Knights begins at 8:30 in Las Vegas. The game will be on ESPN. Can the teams hope to match Game 1 between Florida and Carolina?

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