Wow … what a time it is to be a South Florida sports fan.
My Florida Panthers and the Carolina Hurricanes (much love to my old stomping grounds) gave us absolute magic Thursday night (err, and Friday morning) in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals in a contest that didn’t end until around 2:00 AM ET.
Heck, the Panthers and Hurricanes nearly gave us more free hockey in the form of a fifth overtime, but in the fourth, Florida’s Matthew Tkachuk played hero for the Cardiac Cats to seal the deal for my boys. And it was beautiful.
Beating Frederik Andersen in the last seconds of the fourth OT, Tkachuk scored to give the Panthers the 3-2 road victory over Carolina, as well as the 1-0 series lead heading into Saturday’s Game 2.
And the Cats (along with the Canes) made history as well, with the game being the sixth-longest ever in NHL history, and on top of that, it was the longest game in franchise history for both Florida and Carolina.
MATTHEW TKACHUK’S GAME WINNER HELPS THE PANTHERS WIN THE SIXTH LONGEST GAME IN NHL PLAYOFF HISTORY 🚨 pic.twitter.com/H0Kwdm8HOd
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 19, 2023
Man, what a magical game.
Matthew Tkachuk’s game-winning goal at 19:47 of the 4th overtime, ending the longest game in the history of the @flapanthers & Hurricanes, and giving the Panthers a 1-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Final.
— Doug Plagens (@DougPlagens) May 19, 2023
Here’s the full highlights of the game, because I know a lot of you guys fell asleep:
Wow … what a time it is to be alive for me.
As you guys know, I’m a huge South Florida sports fan (Miami Heat, Florida Panthers, Miami Dolphins, University of Miami, Inter Miami CF, Miami Marlins behind the Atlanta Braves), so as you can imagine, this has been one crazy wave that I’ve been riding on. (Sorry, Carolina. It’s just business.)
I got asked during the game where I have this South Florida playoffs run (Heat and Panthers) ranked on my list, and thinking about it, this would 100% be in my top five, but I’m honestly considering putting it at No. 1. Other than the Miami Heat runs (and witnessing the Marlins do their thing), I don’t think I’ve ever felt this kind of vibe before, and even then, it gets more amplified with two teams being involved. That’s why I’m saying … I’m thinking I have to put it No. 1. (RELATED: San Diego Lands 30th MLS Franchise, Will Make Debut In 2025)
Regardless, what a time for my fandom. Not only could one of my teams win a championship, but two can, and at the same time at that. And I also like to think this is setting up a magical Super Bowl run for the Miami Dolphins when we get to football season.
There’s a lot of magic going on in Miami and South Florida right now, and it’s absolutely incredible.