How Does Playoff Hockey Overtime Work? [Expert Guide!]

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Hockey is one of the most popular sports in the world, played by many professional teams across the globe. The 2019 NHL season saw its first ever openly-gay player play for the LA Kings, sparking huge debates about identity and homophobia in sports.

The Stanley Cup playoffs are a crucial part of the hockey season, giving the sport its annual finals series, with the championship game known as the Stanley Cup. Despite its enormous popularity, the NHL has never fully explained how these games work, beyond confirming that they’re worth three points in the standings and can go up to two overtimes.

What is the overtime format for the Stanley Cup? Does the first team to score advance to the next round? What about ties? What happens when there’s a brawl in the game? Can the goalie change sides during an overtime period? We’re breaking down the intricacies of the overtime format for the Stanley Cup.

Are These Three Points Worth It?

In most sports, the winner of a game gets three points and the loser gets zero. In hockey, however, the game is sometimes tied after regulation time (the period of the game in which the score is tied at the end) is over. In that case, the game goes immediately to overtime, where the attacker tries to score and the defender defends home ice.

In the NHL, overtime is often used to determine a game’s final outcome. For example, the New York Rangers defeated the Vancouver Canucks in seven games in the 2018 Stanley Cup Final. But in Game 7, the two teams were tied after regulation time. So, in overtime, the series shifted to a pure attack-defense battle. The Rangers dominated the first period of the extra frame, outscoring the Canucks 5-1, before extending their lead to 8-5 at the end of the second period. The game eventually ended in a 9-8 victory for New York.

In other cases, ties are broken by adding another overtime period. This is known as a quadruple overtime game. The first team to score in an additional overtime period wins. But again, ties are broken by adding another overtime. Thus, in the case of a six-game series where both teams are tied after five games, it will see each team play one quadruple overtime game. In the sixth game, the team that wins the previous five games will play another four-hour game, resulting in a final score of 17-17.

What If There’s No Score Tied After Regulation?

You may have also seen teams use sudden-death overtime where the first person to score wins. If no one scores in the first sudden-death overtime, then the score is reset to 0-0 and another sudden-death overtime is played. The winner is the first person to score a goal in that overtime period.

You’ll often see this used in football, where there’s no traditional extra time apart from the overtime periods. If a score is not settled in the first sudden-death overtime, the teams will continue playing until a goal is scored. If the score is still tied after the second, then the game ends in a draw.

How Many Overtimes Can A Game Have?

The National Hockey League has never officially stated how many overtime periods it allows. However, the rule book for the sport does contain an answer to this question: it says that a game can have up to three overtimes, but the exact number of periods is negotiable.

The NHL has had games end in a tie after regulation and then have the winner decided by an instant replay. Back in 1998, the Minnesota Wild defeated the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 in a game that lasted almost five hours and featured 106 minutes of extra hockey. During the course of the game, the Wild scored four goals, with none of them being in the first three periods, before the Avalanche finally won the game in a shootout. It was later revealed that the game had gone more than five hours and 58 minutes, because the officials failed to realize there was an extra period in the middle of the game. The Wild’s Dave Lozo scored 22 minutes into the extra frame, tying the score at two goals a piece before the Avalanche won the game in the shootout.

The 2018-19 season saw one of the longest games in NHL history, as the Vegas Golden Knights defeated the San Jose Sharks seven games to one in the Final. The game lasted nearly seven hours and ended in a shootout, with the Golden Knights prevailing. The previous season’s finals was also one of the longer matches, as the St. Louis Blues defeated the Sharks in six games. The longest game in NHL history is also one of the most famous. Known as the Ice Bucket Challenge, the idea behind it was to raise awareness about the effects of ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The disease has no cure, and it gradually robs a person of their ability to speak and move around. During the Ice Bucket Challenge, ALS fighters did battle with each other in a friendly hockey match, raising money and awareness for the cause.

What If There’s A Brawl In The Game?

Brawls are common in hockey, and they’re usually quite entertaining. In fact, fans of the sport love to see players going at it, trying to knock each other’s teeth out. This is probably why the NHL allows brawls to happen. It’s not just about scoring goals and winning games, but about having a good time.

The NHL also seems to foster fighting among its players, as evidenced by how frequently the sport’s biggest stars engage in brawls, regardless of what sport you may watch, whether it’s hockey, football, or whatever. Perhaps it’s the adrenaline rush that comes with a fight or maybe the competitive nature of the sport, but players in the NHL aren’t afraid to throw punches. They’ll often go at it for long enough to draw a penalty, at which point the other team will get a chance to fight back.

There was a time when hockey brawls were punished with instant disqualification. That rule has since been changed, however, as fights will now go to a three-on-three overtime period, where the first team to score wins. It’s not just about scoring goals during these periods, but about having a good time and making the other team pay for their transgression. The idea is to injure your opponent as much as possible, so they don’t play during the rest of the season. These fights are often more about showing off your toughness than anything else. But don’t worry: if an opponent hits you with a clean shot, you’re still disqualified. So watch out for these shots because, when they connect, they can cause some serious damage.

What If The Game Ends In A Tie?

Usually, in the NHL, a game will end in a tie when scores are equal after regulation. In those cases, the victor is usually determined by an instant replay. The teams will play an additional period of hockey (this is known as a mini-sham contest), with the team that scores a goal in the ensuing period winning the game. But if the scores are still tied after the mini-sham contest, then the first team to score a goal in a one-on-one high-school-style shoot-out will win. It’s not easy to score in a one-on-one shoot-out, as your goalie can block your every attempt, but winning is all that matters.

You’ll often see these shootouts used to determine a championship or a league’s top player. If you want to see one, the 2022-23 NHL season is scheduled to have a one-on-one shoot-out at the end of every game, with the winner moving on to the next round. It’s one way of having a tiebreaker that will result in some exciting contests. The mini-sham contest is also a good way to have a bit of fun after a tough game. It’s not something the NHL usually does, but sometimes it needs to.

The NHL has always been a competitive league and has done a lot to promote its sport. It has also always tried to develop the game, making rule changes that it feels will make a difference. In 2020, for example, it will allow the goaltenders to drop their gloves and brawl after a game, as long as they don’t hit the puck-handler. This will hopefully lead to more action-packed brawls and give the fans a better viewing experience.

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