PITTSBURGH -- Keith Primeau, the man who could never seem to score in the playoffs, ended the third longest game in NHL history early Friday morning by scoring at 12:01 of the fifth overtime to give the exhausted Philadelphia Flyers a memorable 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Primeau, who had only seven previous goals in 78 career playoff games, carried the puck along the right wing boards, put a move on defenseman Darius Kasparaitis and powered a wrist shot past Ron Tugnutt, who had stopped 70 of the Flyers' first 71 shots.
The game ended at 2:35 a.m. EDT, exactly seven hours after it started, with more than one-third of the 17,148 fans still in the stands.
The Flyers won both games in Pittsburgh to even at 2-2 an Eastern Conference semifinal series in which the home team has yet to win. Game 4 is Sunday afternoon in Philadelphia.
The only longer games were in the 1930s. Detroit beat the Montreal Maroons 1-0 in an overtime that lasted 116 minutes, 30 seconds on March 24, 1936, and Toronto beat Boston 1-0 in an overtime that lasted 104 minutes, 36 seconds on April 3, 1933.
It became the longest game in Penguins history with 44 seconds left in the fourth overtime. The previous longest was the Penguins' 3-2 victory over Washington on April 24, 1996, a game ended by Petr Nedved's goal with 45 seconds left in the fourth overtime.
Alexei Kovalev, one of the Penguins' most dangerous but enigmatic players, did in Game 4 what he nearly did Tuesday -- give the Penguins the early lead.
Kovalev, the last player off the ice during the Penguins' morning skate, powered a slap shot from the high slot past Brian Boucher's glove 2:22 into the game. Boucher, a rookie, did not allow another goal, stopping 57 of 58 shots.
Kovalev caught the puck off Robert Lang's stick with his hand and adeptly directed it to his stick for his first goal in the Penguins' nine playoff games this season.
The Penguins were 4-0 in the playoffs when scoring first, but they couldn't sustain their early offensive momentum and, caught up in an unaccustomed defensive game, finally lost the lead.
The Flyers, scoreless on their first 16 power plays of the series, finally scored on their 17th. Daymond Langkow won a faceoff in the Penguins' end that went to Eric Desjardins, whose slap shot from the point was redirected into the net by John LeClair just as he was losing his balance in the slot.
LeClair's stick was pointed in the air when he shot, and the goal was reviewed to determine if the stick was above the crossbar when he redirected it. However, the replay judges said the video was inconclusive, and did not overrule it. The puck apparently hit defenseman Bob Boughner's stick before deflecting off LeClair's helmet and past Tugnutt.
As so often happens in long playoff games, each team took turns dominating the offensive play in overtime.
The Flyers got nearly all of the good chances in the first overtime, with Langkow missing off the crossbar with 30 seconds gone.
The Penguins subsequently had nearly all of the better chances in the second overtime, with Kovalev missing off the right post at 1:40 -- exactly the same shot he missed in the Flyers' 4-3 overtime victory in Game 3.
The third overtime featured a rarity -- three power plays, two by Pittsburgh, but neither team could score. The Flyers had six shots during their power play and 13 in the third overtime.
Jaromir Jagr, the offensive star of the first three games of the series with five goals, was clearly off his game.
He missed the Penguins' pregame skate, complaining he did not feel well, and was so fatigued at times he could barely stand on his skates.
The longest previous Flyers overtime playoff game was a two-overtime victory over St. Louis on April 16, 1968.
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