NHL Overtime Rules Explained — Rules and Differences Between Regular Season

Hockey is one of the most excellent sports of all time. However, sometimes the game may extend to overtime. When the overtime period starts to ease the gameplay, few rules are amended. The basic rules of NHL overtime rules are as follows.

Hockey Player

The Basic Rules of Overtimes in NHL

  • During the overtime period, the number of players is reduced from 5 to 3 per team. The idea is to provide more room on the rink to increase the scoring during overtime.
  • The hockey overtime period is only for 5 minutes. The game gets automatically over if a player makes the goal and scores.
  • But if during the NHL overtime either team does not score, then the game proceeds in a shootout. In a shootout, each team selects three players. The team that scores more number goals is the winner. If both the teams’ goals are tied, then the team has to select an additional player. This will keep on following until one team takes the lead.
  • If there is a penalty during NHL overtime, then the penalized player has to be off the games, and there will be a power play where the opposite team will add one more player. So the game is now four vs 3. After the power play is over, the penalized player can come back to the game.
  • If a team loses during NHL overtime, the losing team will still receive a point under the hockey overtime rule. The winning team is awarded 2 points. This additional point system in NHL overtime rules was introduced due to the reduced number of players.

How is the overtime period played?

The regular game is of a duration of 60 minutes. But if those 60 minutes the time is tied, the match will be decided In the overtime period. In NHL overtime rules, 5 minutes is added in NHL overtime. Both the team has to face off against each other with three players. The three vs 3 gives the players more room in the rink. The players will skate and pass the puck to the goal. The game will end when either of the team scores a goal. But if none of the team scores, then a shootout takes place. In shootout again, both the team selects three players each. The three players now take alternating penalty shots against the goalkeeper. The team that scores more wins. But again, if the shootout results in a tie, both the team select one more player. Now that player will compete in a shootout. Unless either of the team takes the lead and win, the team will keep on selecting one additional player for a shootout.

Hockey Stadium

Overtime length and Strategy Tips

According to the NHL overtime rule, the ice hockey overtime is for 5 minutes with 3 vs 3. That 5 minutes gameplay is solely a skill competition.

Due to the game ending with a shootout, each team started developing and changing their gameplay strategies. We have seen a strategy for each team involved in the seasons.

Below are some strategy tips.

  • If the opposing team has the pluck, strengthen your defense. Possession of the pluck is a huge advantage, as well as it can be tiring. The team possessing the pluck has to be on guard and have speed and agility to score. The other aspect of the possession can make the team tired. So here, the opposing team can take the opportunity and strengthen their defense. The goalkeeper should be agile and attentive enough to block the pluck and turn the tables. When they change their strategy from defensive to attacking, the other team would have already been a bit tired.
  • Under the NHL overtime rule, the game proceeds with 3 vs 3. This itself makes a lot of difference. The purpose of the 3 vs 3 is to give more room to make attacking gameplay. On the other aspect, rushed gameplay always leaves room for error. The opposing team has to wait for an opportunity for the other team to make a mistake to take possession of the pluck. This requires a lot of patience and observation.

What happens in case of a penalty in overtime?

In case of a penalty, then according to the NHL overtime rules, The game will be 4 vs 3. In the NHL overtime period, the game is played against 3 vs 3 players. But if a player of one team is subjected to a penalty, then the opposing team has the advantage of adding one player to their team. This will be in effect for 2 minutes or less. At the same time, the penalized player has to be in the games for 2 minutes. His team will send out 3 penalty killers and the team who takes the lead gains an additional skater. When the penalty expires, the team will play again 3 vs 3.

Penalty in overtime

Overtime Rules at NHL playoffs

Ice hockey overtime rules are different in NHL overtime playoff rules. In the NHL playoff, if the game is tied in the regular play of 60 minutes, then add 20 minutes are added. In that 20 minutes, the players play against 5 vs 5.

According to the NHL overtime playoff rules, if the game is tied during overtime, then there is a 15-minute intermission. In the 15 minutes intermission, the players take a rest, and the ice is cleaned. Next, the players have to play for the whole additional period. If either of the team fails to take the lead, then again, there would a 15 minutes intermission followed by a second overtime period. This will keep on following until either of the team takes the lead.

Common Questions

How many points is an overtime win in the NHL?

According to the NHL overtime rules, the winning team gets 2 points. A loss in the shootout earns 1 point to the team.

How many overtimes are there in the NHL playoffs?

According to the NHL playoff overtime rules, the game is continued with the intermission until either of the teams take the lead.

What happens if nobody scores in overtime hockey?

As stated on the NHL playoff overtime rules, no team scores, then they are given 15 minutes intermission. After which, they play again for an additional period.


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