If you’re a hockey fan, you know that one of the most exciting parts of the game is the possibility of overtime. In the NHL, overtime is played in both the regular season and playoffs, and the rules surrounding overtime have changed over the years. In this article, we’ll dive into the history of NHL overtime rules and explore how they’ve evolved over time.
The Early Days of Overtime
Believe it or not, overtime games in the NHL were rare in the league’s early days. In fact, the first overtime game in NHL history wasn’t played until the 1919 Stanley Cup Finals, and it ended in a 0-0 tie.
At the time, the NHL’s overtime rules were a bit different than what we see today. Overtime was played in a full twenty-minute period, and the first team to score would be declared the winner. However, if no team scored in the overtime period, the game ended in a tie.
This format stayed in place until the 1927-28 season, when the NHL introduced a new overtime rule. Under the new rule, if a game was tied at the end of regulation, teams would play a ten-minute overtime in which the first goal wins.
The Arrival of the Shootout
The 2005-06 season brought with it a major change to overtime rules in the NHL. Prior to the start of the season, the league announced that if a game was still tied after the five-minute overtime period, the game would then be decided by a shootout.
The shootout format was exciting for fans, as it provided a thrilling conclusion to tied games. In a shootout, each team selects three players to take penalty shots, and the team with the most goals after those shots are taken is declared the winner. If the game is still tied after three rounds of shootout, the shootout goes into a sudden-death format, where the first team to score a goal wins the game.
Further Tweaks to Overtime Rules
In the following years, the NHL continued to tweak its overtime rules in an effort to balance the excitement of overtime with the importance of the team game. In the 2010-2011 season, the NHL eliminated ties altogether and introduced a shootout even in the regular season to end tied games.
More recently, the NHL has implemented a new overtime format, which has been wholly embraced by most hockey fans. It features a five-minute, three-on-three sudden-death overtime period followed by a shootout if needed. This change was made in an effort to reduce shootouts, increase scoring, and let players show off their skill in a more open overtime ice.
In the playoffs, the rules for overtime change yet again to add to the drama and excitement. In the postseason, teams play twenty-minute overtime periods until a goal is scored. The only exception is during the Stanley Cup Finals, where there is no time limit on overtime periods – meaning that a game could technically go on forever!
NHL overtime rules have come a long way since the league’s inception, and the changes made to the rules have been a reflection of the evolving sport and its fan base. While shootouts and three-on-three hockey are still relatively new to the NHL, they’ve made the game more exciting than ever. Whether you’re a casual fan or a die-hard hockey nut, there’s no denying the thrill of a sudden-death overtime period.
So next time you’re watching an NHL game, keep an eye out for the different overtime rules at play. Who knows – you might just witness a historical moment in overtime NHL history!