On the heels of a 139-minute marathon that proved to be the longest game in both franchises' history, the Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes decided it would be rude if they didn't treat fans to another overtime thriller for Game 2 at PNC Arena in Raleigh.
For the second-straight Eastern Conference Finals game, the Panthers' Matthew Tkachuk scored a game-winning overtime shot that sent the Hurricanes on a despondent walk to their home-ice locker room and fans to the exits. In the Game 2 matchup, Tkachuk whipped in a feed from Sam Reinhart at the 1:51 mark of overtime to beat the Hurricanes 2-1.
"I just feels like we get better as the game goes along, so hopefully we continue that trend," Tkachuk said postgame.
To recap, the Panthers played two overtime games amounting to 200 minutes of live-action hockey, which puts them just six wins away from securing a Stanley Cup trophy. Having barely inched into the NHL playoffs as the Eastern Conference eight-seed, the Panthers now have a 2-0 Eastern Conference Finals lead.
After so much hockey — all of the hockey — the Panthers and Hurricanes are taking a much-needed all-expense-paid vacation to South Florida.
Well, it's actually a business trip for Game 3 of the Conference Finals that will take place at FLA Live Arena in Sunrise tonight at 8:00 p.m.
At least if Game 3 goes into overtime, Panthers players will get a chance to sleep in their own beds.
"We are happy to go back home. And we are in a good situation, exactly where we want to be," said Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov.