Where does Alex Lyon’s 94-save performance rank in hockey history?
Flyers prospect and Lehigh Valley Phantoms goalie Alex Lyon was a busy man on Wednesday night, as he turned aside 94 of 95 shots in the longest AHL game in history. The game was decided in the fifth overtime period and it ended six hours after it started. In total, they played 86:48 in overtime and in all, it lasted 146:48. That’s a workout!
Believe it or not, Lyon still fell short of setting an AHL record for most saves in a game.
So, how does this marathon game and Lyon’s 94 saves stack up against some of the similar performances in hockey history? Let’s take a look.
• Montreal Maroons vs. Detroit Red Wings - March 24, 1936
According to NHL.com, the longest game in NHL history ended in the sixth overtime period of the 1936 Stanley Cup Semifinal between the Montreal Maroons and Detroit Red Wings. The Wings won the game 1-0 on a goal by Mud Bruneteau after 116:30 of overtime was played.
Red Wings netminder Normie Smith apparently lost 12 pounds during the game. He turned aside 92 shots in the shutout victory. That remains an NHL record to this day. Fun fact: he won the Vezina Trophy the following year.
• Boston Bruins vs. Toronto Maple Leafs - April 3, 1933
Prior to the Maroons and Red Wings playing the longest game in history, the record was owned by the Leafs and Bruins. They also skated in six overtime periods, but they “only” played 104:46 of extra hockey before Toronto’s Ken Doraty scored to give the Leafs a 1-0 win. Fun fact: the general managers on both teams agreed that a coin-flip should decide the outcome of this game because it was dragging on too long. The players objected, so they kept playing.
• Philadelphia Flyers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins - May 4, 2000
Alright, finally a game that’s a little more recent than the previous two. Keith Primeau scored the game-winning goal in the fifth overtime period. On top of the 60 minutes they played in regulation, these two rivals skated for an additional 92:01.
Flyers goaltender Brian Boucher (57 saves on 58 shots) was busy, but he didn’t face as much rubber as Penguins netminder Ron Tugnutt, who turned aside 70 of 72 shots in the loss.
The three games we just mentioned are the only ones in NHL history that were longer than last night’s AHL game game between the Phantoms and Checkers.
• New York Islanders vs. Washington Capitals - April 18. 1987
This game is actually the 10th longest contest in NHL history (68:47 of overtime was played before Isles forward Pat Lafontaine scored the winner), but Islanders goalie Kelly Hrudey was forced to make 73 saves on 75 shots. The NHL only started officially tracking shots on goal as a statistic in 1956, so that’s why many consider Hrudey’s performance to be an NHL record even though we know Normie Smith stopped more shots back in 1936.
• Vancouver Canucks vs. Dallas Stars - April 11, 2007
Roberto Luongo’s playoff debut was pretty long. After giving up four goals in regulation, he had to play another 78:06 of overtime to come away with his first postseason win. He also had to work pretty hard to get it, as he turned aside 72 of 76 shots the Stars sent his way. The 76 shots against are an unofficial NHL record, but he fell one save short of tying Hrudey’s mark of 73.
• Philadelphia Phantoms vs. Albany River Rats - April 25, 2008
Former NHL goalie Michael Leighton turned aside 98 of 101 shots the Phantoms sent his way in a 3-2 loss in five overtimes. The overtime portion of the game lasted 82:58 before Ryan Potulny scored the game-winner for Philadelphia.
“It doesn’t matter how many shots they got, they got the win. It’s definitely disappointing for myself. It was fun to be a part of a game like that, but you want to end it on a winning note,’' Leighton said at the time.
That’s gotta be a tough way to lose.
• Hamilton Bulldogs vs. Houston Aeros - May 30, 2003
Before Leighton owned the record for most saves in an AHL game, that mark belonged to former Edmonton Oilers netminder Ty Conklin. During the Calder Cup Final, Conklin turned aside 83 of 84 shots in a 2-1 win over the Aeros, which ended in four overtime periods.
Storhamar Dragons vs. Sparta Warriors - March 13, 2017
This Norwegian League clash lasted longer than any of the other games on this list. The Dragons eventually won the game, 2-1, in the eighth overtime period. The game ended over eight hours after it started.
The Dragons outshot the Warriors 96-93, which means the Warriors goalie stopped 94 shots, while the Dragons netminder turned aside 92 shots.