The Buffalo Bandits and Washington Stealth played the last game of the National Lacrosse League's regular season late Saturday night. They acted as if they didn't want the season to end.
It took until 9:55 of overtime had elapsed before John Tavares scored to give the Bandits a 17-16 victory in Everett, Wash. It was the fifth-longest game in the history of the league.
Tavares finished the game with three goals and two assists. The veteran ended the season with 41 goals and 39 assists. His 80 points placed him seventh in the league scoring race.
The Bandits held a 16-11 lead with nine minutes to play in the fourth quarter on Saturday.
However, Billy Dee Smith picked up a high-sticking major, and the Stealth scored three goals on the power play to get back into the game. Then Rhys Duch (eight points) and Lewis Ratcliff (seven goals) scored in the final four minutes to tie the game.
Roger Vyse and Mark Steenhuis also scored three goals each for the Bandits.
The Bandits finished the season with a 7-9 record. That put them in a tie with Rochester and Philadelphia for second place in the East Division. However, since Buffalo lost on tiebreakers, the Bandits will open the playoffs at 7 p.m. on Saturday in Toronto against the first-place Rock.
The Bandits are seeded seventh in the overall NLL standings. That means the only way that Buffalo would play at home in the postseason would be if it faced Edmonton in a championship game.
John Grant Jr. of Colorado broke Tavares' NLL record for most points in a season. Grant had six points on Saturday to finish with 116, one more than Tavares' total in 2001. Grant played a 16-game season this year, while Tavares set his record in a 14-game schedule.
Grant led the league in 2012 with 50 goals, while Tavares was second at 41.