Tim Benz: Some Penguins hockey karma — a Tugnutt scored on a Primeau
Here’s one of those “hockey is a small world” kind of stories — with an ironic twist that I hope makes Pittsburgh Penguins fans smile.
I was doing ESPN Pittsburgh play-by-play for the Robert Morris hockey team as they played Sacred Heart this weekend. One of the Pioneers’ leading point producers is Matt Tugnutt.
Yeah. Pretty memorable name, right? And, yes, he is the son of former Penguins goalie Ron Tugnutt.
Ron was in attendance at the Island Sports Center to watch his son play. Good choice by him as the Pioneers won both games and his son scored along the way Friday night.
Ron Tugnutt joined our broadcast for an intermission interview Saturday. And in just six minutes, we covered a lot of ground.
When you play 537 games over 14 NHL seasons in eight cities, there’s a lot to cram into one intermission segment. But, of course, I eventually got around to … that night.
Any Pittsburgh hockey fan who hears the name Ron Tugnutt knows what night I’m talking about. It was May 4, 2000. Penguins versus Flyers at Mellon Arena. Game Four of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Tugnutt stopped 70 of 72 shots. And lost. It was the infamous five-overtime defeat to Philadelphia. Keith Primeau was the guy to end it on the 72nd shot.
The contest set the record for the longest overtime game in the modern era of the NHL. The Flyers ended up winning the series 4-2.
“We started at 7 at night and ended at 2:30 in the morning,” Tugnett said. “I lost 12 pounds that night. One of the best things about that story is that they ran out of beer at the arena.”
I assume Primeau and Tugnutt found one somewhere afterward, though. Primeau to celebrate. Tugnutt to drown his sorrows.
“Well, he was in better shape than everyone else,” Tugnutt joked. “He missed half the year. He held out. So he had more juice left than everybody else.”
I asked Tugnutt if he had ever spoken with Primeau about that memorable moment in Penguins-Flyers lore.
“It’s funny. I ran into him when Matt was playing Northeastern,” Tugnutt said of a game back on Oct. 12. “His son (Cayden) is a goalie at Northeastern. And immediately there’s a big smile. And we both know why we are smiling.”
But this is where the story takes a turn in the name of Black-and-Gold karma.
“I said to some friends, wouldn’t it be nice if my son could score on his son to get at least a little payback,” Tugnutt said. “Sure enough, Matt scored on him.”
As for the final score? Well, chalk up another one for the Primeau family tree. The Huskies ended up winning 5-2 with Primeau in net. But Tugnutt didn’t seem to mind.
“I felt pretty good that day,” Tugnutt said with a grin. “I slept a little better that night.”
Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at email@example.com or via Twitter @TimBenzPGH. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.