NHL Extra Time

NHL Overtime: The most fun part of hockey

3-on-3 overtime

  • Players are reduced from 5 to 3 per side
  • 5 minutes of extra time
  • Power plays are played at 4-on-3 not 3-on-2
  • Sudden Death: Once a goal is scored the game is over
  • All games not decided at the end of 5 minutes go to a shootout. 
  • Teams losing in overtime still get 1 point in the standings
Photo of Connor McDavid scoring

History of NHL overtimes

  • Inception to 1942:

    • A 10 minutes non-sudden death overtime 

  • World War 2 to 1983:

    • No regular season overtime. Games tied at the end of regulation were simply recorded as ties.
  • 1983-1984 Season:

    • The NHL introduced a five-minute, sudden-death overtime period for regular season games. If a game was tied after regulation, the teams played an additional five minutes with the first team to score winning the game. Games still ended in a tie if no goals were scored during overtime.
  • 1999-2000 Season:

    • The NHL introduced a four-on-four format for overtime, reducing the number of players from five to create more open ice and increase the chances of scoring. The sudden-death format remained, where the first team to score in overtime won the game.
  • 2005-2006 Season:

    • Following the 2004-2005 NHL lockout, several rule changes were implemented to increase scoring and improve the flow of the game. Among these changes, the league introduced the shootout to decide games that remained tied after the five-minute overtime period. This eliminated ties from the NHL, ensuring that each game had a winner.
  • 2015-2016 Season:

    • The NHL modified the overtime format to three-on-three for the five-minute sudden-death period, further increasing the pace of play and chances of scoring. The shootout format remained for games still tied after overtime.


If after 5 minutes of overtime the games is still tied the game doesn’t end in a tie

They used to end in ties, but now when overtime ends teams go to a shootout. 

A shootout works like this:

  • Each team will choose 3 shooters to take ‘penalty shot’ like attempts on the opposing goalie
  • Each team alternates shot attempts
  • The team who has the most goals after the 3 shots win the game
  • If still tied after the 3 shooters then each team will send out one shooter for an attempt until one team scores and the other does not

nhl playoff overtimes

NHL overtime hockey is one of the best things in all of sports. 

There is so much drama and excitement. 

However, there are a few different rules from regular season overtime: 

  • Teams play 5-on5 just like regulation play
  • There is a 15 minute intermission between the end of reulgation play and the first overtime period, and then for each subsequent period
  • It is (somewhat) common for games to go multiple periods in overtime 

Main rule stays the same: It is SUDDEN DEATH – once someone scores the game is automatically over. 

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