After looking at how overtime works in the NHL regular season, it’s now time to see how it works in the playoffs.
In general, playoff overtimes are longer than their regular season counterparts. That shouldn’t be too surprising because a team trailing with only a few minutes left is more motivated and/or desperate to come back and win the game, and the trailing team will try much harder to not make a mistake that would lead to the winning goal. In addition, because of tie-breaking procedures involved in ties after regulation time, it can be very beneficial for a team to prolong an overtime as long as possible.
What actually happens during this extra time?
While you lay back on your couch and enjoy the overtime, people in the war room at NHL headquarters are busy looking through possible scenarios to determine who would win a given game. They take into account goal differential (up to four), goals for (also up to four), and of course regulation time results. For teams that have yet to play the second game of a home-and-home series, the winner of game 1 is used.
What is overtime in hockey?
What is OT in hockey? How does it work? Overtime periods are five minutes long. The first overtime period is played 4-on-4, with at least two skaters on each side. After the first overtime period, the ice is resurfaced and teams play 3-on-3 for one 10 minute period. However, after this 10 minute overtime, if the game is still tied, at least two skaters must be present on each team to start the next (third) period.
How does hockey overtime work in the playoffs
The NHL has adopted the FIBA rule of ending any period when either team takes the lead. This means that if one team scores in overtime, no matter how much time is left on the clock, the next period will start. But since there is a possibility of a long game and an even longer night (and early morning), teams are guaranteed a minimum of three 20 minute periods (plus the five minutes to start), no matter what.
What are the possible outcomes of overtime?
There are three possible outcomes of overtime.
- The first one is the simplest, but least likely (and most boring). A game that goes beyond 60 minutes will end in a tie . Ties used to be common at the end of the regular season, when two teams with nothing on the line would play it safe and not take any chances. The NHL has since moved away from ties, so there are very few of them to be seen.
- The second possible outcome is the one everybody wants to see: the game-winning goal scored in overtime . This usually happens during a scramble in front of the net, when no defensive player knows who should cover whom. The goaltender will try his best to move into position to either block a shot or make a save, but it will usually end up with the puck sliding behind him and staying out of his sightline.
- The third possible outcome is one that could probably be called “the worst-case scenario”. It happens when both teams score an equal number of goals in overtime. How does this work? Well, because of the tie-breaking procedures, there are cases when both teams will play for an extra five minutes and score a goal each. If this happens, the game is over and each team gets one point .
So, over the course of an NHL season, there are more games that end in regulation time than go to overtime.
However, this changes once the playoffs begin. Since every game is important and every point counts for one extra spot in the standings at the end of the season, teams will play much harder now since they can’t afford to lose ground. Therefore, overtime will happen more often during the playoffs .