Remember that time pizza played a huge role during a hockey game? I think it’s happened once: May 4, 2000, at Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh.
The longest game in modern day NHL history clocked in at 152:01 (and that’s just game time), but what went on when that clock wasn’t counting has provided some of the more legendary game stories in the history of this league – stories you can hear on the Sports Uncovered: Marathon on Ice podcast.
By the end, I thought my knees were going to blow out on the ice, and then we scored two minutes later.
– Chris Therien
What began with an Alex Kovalev goal in the first period ended seven periods later early the next morning with Keith Primeau scoring one of the most memorable goals in franchise history.
Over the years, I’ve talked to several players involved in that 2-1 five-overtime win for the Flyers over the Penguins in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. The consistent theme of those conversations is that former Flyers winger and current color analyst Keith Jones provided much of the comic relief, including walking through the locker room with a slice of pizza hanging out of his mouth sometime between one of the four completed overtime periods.
Over the last 20 years, stories have continued to emerge, each one more entertaining than the next, from stacks of pizza boxes outside the Flyers’ locker room to running out of energy drinks to running short on clean laundry. One such story comes from the aforementioned “Jonesy,” who played 46 shifts during this marathon on ice, and what he has to show for it – a plus-1 – occurred while he was skating to the bench to change shifts when Primeau scored the game-winner in the fifth overtime. It’s a point of pride for Jones, who has the box score framed and hanging in his house.
When thinking back on this game, it’s almost as if it took place in a vacuum. It’s easy to forget this was the same Flyers playoff run that ended in the Eastern Conference Final with Scott Stevens sending Eric Lindros off the ice for the last time in a Flyers uniform with a devastating hit. Or that the low feeling in the East Final came on the heels of one of the most memorable wins in franchise history.
It’s also easy to forget that the Flyers trailed this series to the Penguins, 2-0, losing the first two games on home ice before winning four straight, the second of which was the five-overtime marathon that changed the complexion of the whole series. This game only tied the series at 2-2, but talk to any of the Flyers players and they all agree – the series was over after the marathon on ice. You’ll get very little argument from the Pittsburgh side on that statement either.
This game was the series.
Two decades later, you can’t mention this game to a Flyers player from that team without a big smile emerging on their face, followed by a few stories. Stories that will live on forever, much like the game that seemed like it would go on forever.
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