Former Islander Patrick Flatley recalls the Easter Epic, a 3-2 four-overtime win over the Capitals in Game 7 of the first round on April 18, 1987, the longest game in team history.
At the time, I don’t think any of us had a sense that anything extraordinary was happening, even as the overtimes mounted. Now, whenever I return to Long Island, people always tell me how significant and memorable and special it all was, especially to have shared it with their children, now obviously grown-ups.
But, before the internet, I don’t think anyone kept track of the fact that we were going into different territory. I don’t recall it being discussed during the game.
To me, the first and second overtimes felt like a normal game. And then the third went to the euphoria of being a child again. It was just, “We get to stay out and keep playing? This is the coolest.” We all started to enjoy it. If it had went into the fifth overtime, it would have been just fine.
They brought in pizzas during intermissions and everybody was pretty hungry. Guys were laying on the floor with their legs up trying to get the blood going. And then somebody would say something funny and we would have a laugh.
The whole game was extremely physical. The Capitals’ Scott Stevens had laid a few hits. He got me earlier in the game. My second-period goal came after that. It was very satisfying because Stevens was on the ice for the minus. That’s what I remember.
It was definitely a slugfest and the teams hated each other because it was the fifth straight year we played in the playoffs and we saw each other so much during the regular season.
The opportunities to score were few and far between. You came off every shift exhausted. I was called for high sticking in the second overtime, the last of the eight high-sticking calls and one of the 17 minor penalties in the game. Basically, it was do you want to go to the penalty box or the hospital? You got your stick up when somebody came to run you over.
When Pat LaFontaine finally scored in the fourth overtime, I felt something beyond gratitude. He basically gifted all of us with a win. How do you thank someone for that?
But on the handshake line, I felt the Capitals’ sorrow. It did register. You can’t help but think that easily could have been us. I felt for those guys because they had given their all, just like we had.