‘Til the break of dawn

RALEIGH, North Carolina, AP

The oldest player to score a goal — make that two goals — in the Stanley Cup finals ended the third-longest game in finals history, with Detroit beating the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2.

Igor Larionov scored his second goal of the game 1407 into the third overtime and the weary Red Wings, the NHL’s oldest team, outlasted the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 Saturday night in Game 3 of the best-of-seven series.

The Red Wings will take a 2-1 lead into Game 4 on Monday night despite losing Game 1 in overtime.

Detroit, which had a majority of the good scoring chances in overtime, won it on a 3-on-2 break. Larionov cut across the slot, causing forward Bates Battaglia to slip to the ice, to beat Arturs Irbe with a backhander. Irbe made 50 saves before that.

“It’s a fantastic feeling,” Larionov said. “You play for 25 years … and (you get a goal) in the third overtime of the playoffs.”

Detroit forced overtime by tying it on Brett Hull’s goal late in the third period.

Larionov’s goal came at 54 minutes, 47 seconds of overtime, or only four seconds fewer than the second longest overtime, Dallas’ Cup-clinching victory over Buffalo decided by Hull’s disputed goal in 1999. The longest was 55 minutes, 13 seconds between Edmonton and Boston in 1990.

“You can’t play any harder,” Red Wings coach Scotty Bowman said. “It was so long, it was like having two games. He (Larionov) has looked after himself and that’s why he’s able to play at level he plays at.”

The Hurricanes, in the first major pro sports championship-level game ever played in North Carolina, were within 104 of taking the series lead until Hull — who else? — tied it.

Hull, who had three game winning goals in the 1999 and 2000 finals for Dallas, lifted his stick to deflect Nicklas Lidstrom’s shot past Irbe, just over nine minutes after Jeff O’Neill put Carolina in the lead.

“It’s a tough loss, you can’t hide it,” Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice said. “We’re not going to go in waving pom-pons and say it’s all right.”

Hull’s goal set up the second overtime in three games, but this one lasted a lot longer than Game 1, Carolina’s 3-2 victory decided by Ron Francis’ goal 58 seconds into overtime.

Detroit dominated the first two overtimes by rolling four lines to Carolina’s three. Detroit had nearly all the good chances, with Brendan Shanahan missing off a post and Fredrik Olausson clanging one off the crossbar in the first overtime.

Each team had a rare overtime power play in the second extra period, but couldn’t convert. Irbe made the save of the game midway through the second overtime, stretching out his stick and glove to barely deflect Steve Yzerman’s shot toward a momentarily empty net.

With the score tied at 1 for the third straight game and the next goal seemingly destined to decide the winner, O’Neill got it at 704 of the third — his seventh of the playoffs and sixth in 10 games.

Francis nudged the puck to O’Neill from the neutral zone and, with a step on Lidstrom, lofted an end-over-end shot that eluded Hasek to the glove side and inside the far post.

But, the Red Wings — desperate to avoid going down 2-1 — tied it on Hull’s 99th career playoff goal.

The first of Detroit’s three 600-goal scorers to score in the series, Hull lifted his stick to deflect Lidstrom’s shot from the blue line past Irbe, who had been solid and unruffled all night.