If you’ve ever played hockey, you know how tiring a single game can be. If you’ve ever seen a game go into multiple overtimes, you’ve seen how tired the players get and how the game ends up having a different feel. The players take shorter shifts. They move slower on the ice. The game becomes about which team wants it more and who has the most energy left. The coaches have to strategize and use the players who are more rested. In this article, we are going to discuss the five longest games ever played.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Washington Capitals (139:15 min)
It was April 24th, 1996 when the Pittsburgh Penguins faced off against the Capitals in Washington for the 4th game of the quarterfinal series. The game started out with a lot of fights and tousles. By the end of the 1st period Mario Lemieux was thrown out of the game and the goalie Tom Barrasso was injured. As the 2nd period began, the backup goalie Ken Wregget stepped in to take over the game. By the end of the third period the game was tied at 2-2, but this had been just the beginning of a whole new game. Many who watched this game may remember the heart-stopping moment when the puck rolled off Barrasso’s stick and went sliding towards the net. The puck was headed straight for the goal. Fortunately, defenseman Chris Tamer was able to reach out and stop it with his stick at the last possible second. The final goal was scored by Petr Nedved with only seconds left in the 4th overtime.
Anaheim Ducks vs. Dallas Stars (140:48 min)
In the conference semifinals of the 2003 playoffs, the Anaheim Ducks and the Dallas Stars met in Dallas on April 24th 2003. It was the first game in the series and the Ducks were hot on the trail for the Stanley Cup as they had just beaten the Detroit Red Wings, the defending champions. By the end of the first period the teams were tied 1-1. Through the first half of the second period, the Ducks claimed a two goal lead, but blew it as the Stars came back with one goal in the end of the 2nd and another in the third. As the final whistle blew, they were tied at 3-3, but the game was far from over. The game would end up going into a 5th overtime and only end when Petr Sykora got the puck past Marty Turco at 12:32 a.m. CT. According to ESPN, “Anaheim players were too pooped to party after this one. They moved gingerly through the locker room, trying not to think about the fact Game 2 started in about 37 hours.”
Philadelphia Flyers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (152:01 min)
On May 4, 2000, the Flyers and the Penguins suited up for the 4th game of the conference semi-finals. During this game the Penguins took an early lead when Alexei Kovalev scored their first and only goal. The second period would go without goals from either team. In the third left wing John LeClair would tie up the game for the Flyers. The score would stay at 1-1 until the game entered the 5th overtime. By this time the crowds had dwindled, but at least one-third of the 17,148 fans’ butts were still in the seats waiting to see the outcome of this seemingly endless game. The 3rd overtime saw three power-plays, a rare occurrence for overtime periods. At 12 minutes and one second into the 5th, center Keith Primeau, a man who never seemed to score in the playoffs, made history by getting the puck past Penguins goalie Ron Tugnutt.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Boston Bruins (164:46 min)
The Maple Leafs and the Bruins had two wins each as they faced off for their fifth game in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs on April 3rd, 1933. The fans were ready and expecting a close game as three of the first four games in the series had already gone into overtime. Believe it or not, this game went completely scoreless up until the 6th overtime. According to Behind the Net: 101 Incredible Hockey Stories, “’Morning papers appeared in the rink’ said Maple Leafs publicist Ed Fitkin, ‘and were sold as fast as they were produced. Midnight came and went, and still the battle went on. Fans both in and out of the rink were determined to see it through. The players on the ice were dog-red and near exhaustion.’” At four minutes and 46 seconds into the 6th period Maple Leaf Ken Doraty finally scored the game winning goal.
Detroit Red Wings vs. Montreal Maroons (176:30 min)
Fans were asleep in the stands by the time this game ended. The game started on March 24th 1936, but didn’t end until 2:25 in the morning on March 25th, 1936. This game was the first game in the semifinals and also went scoreless up until the 6th overtime. The game was concluded 16 minutes and 30 seconds into the overtime when Modere “Mud” Bruneteau got the game-winning goal. Elmer Ferguson of the Montreal Herald recounted, “It looked like another of the endless unfinished plays – when suddenly, in shot the slim form of a player, who through this long, weary tide of battle that ebbed and flowed had been almost unnoticed. He swung his stick at the bobbling puck, the little black disc straightened away, shot over the foot of Lorne Chabot, bit deeply into the twine of the Montreal Maroon cage. And so Modere Bruneteau, clerk in a Winnipeg grain office, leaped to fame as the player who ended the longest game on professional hockey record.”
Just imagine attending one of these games. Would you leave or would you stick around into the 6th overtime to see the outcome? As the game goes into another overtime, the players grow tired and more sluggish. You haven’t been able to eat since the end of the second period when the concession stands closed. You watch the players eat and drink what they can to keep their energy up. In the end it all comes down to endurance. Whoever can persevere, wins the game, gets the glory, and ultimately goes down in hockey history.