LANDOVER, Md. — Pat LaFontaine scored at 8:47 of the fourth overtime Saturday night to send the New York Islanders into the Patrick Division final with a 3-2 victory over the Washington Capitals in Game 7 of their Stanley Cup playoff series, ending the fifth-longest game in National Hockey League history.
The game lasted 128 minutes 47 seconds. It ended at 1:58 a.m. EDT today, 6 hours 18 minutes after it began.
It was the longest game since March 23, 1943, when Toronto defeated Detroit, 3-2. Records for overtime games were first kept in 1927.
The longest game ever played in the NHL was March 24, 1936, when the Detroit defeated the Montreal Maroons, 1-0, 16:30 into the sixth overtime.
Gord Dineen skated out from behind the Capitals' net to the left of goalie Bob Mason. His backhand attempt caromed off Capital defenseman Kevin Hatcher and bounced to the high slot. LaFontaine drilled a slap shot through a group of players to beat Mason for his fourth goal of the playoffs.
Washington outshot New York, 75-57, in the game.
The Capitals outshot the Islanders, 36-21, in regulation, but Kelly Hrudey's brilliant goaltending kept the Islanders in the game.
"Patty said he would score the game-winner, and when someone that talented tells you that, you have to believe it," Hrudey said. " I don't remember when he said it and I don't care.
"I never expected to face 75 shots and allow just two goals. That's make-believe."
Mason knew it was real, saying: "It's kind of an empty feeling, particularly when you are up 3-1 (in games), it is hard to swallow."
LaFontaine said: "It was a lot of guys in here doing whatever it takes to win. We were just trying to stay loose and trying to laugh.
"We are emotionally strong, and our emotional strength will help pull us through this. Kelly Hrudey was unbelievable. He saved us. He made some saves that had me shaking my head."
New York's Bryan Trottier scored with 5:23 left in the third period, his fifth goal of the series, to tie the score, 2-2. Trottier took a pass from Alan Kerr at the blue line, skated past defenseman Kevin Hatcher and flipped a seven-foot backhander through Mason's pads.
The Islanders became the third team in NHL history to overcome a series deficit of at least 3-1 and win a best-of-seven set.