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Overtime, in ice hockey, is a method of determining the winner and loser of ice hockey matches should a game be tied after regulation. Two main methods include the overtime period (commonly referred to as overtime), and the shootout.

Overtime periods

Overtime periods are extra periods beyond the third regulation period during a game, where normal hockey rules apply. Although in the past, full-length overtime periods were played, overtimes today are sudden death, meaning that the game ends immediately when a player scores a goal.

For the 1983-84 season, the NHL introduced a regular season overtime period of five minutes, compared to the twenty minutes of regulation periods. If the five minute overtime period ended with no scoring, the game was a tie. Note: The World Hockey Association had used a 10-minute regular season overtime period, as had the NHL prior to World War II.

In 1998, the American Hockey League introduced a rule where teams will play the five minute overtime period with four skaters and a goaltender, rather than at full strength (five skaters), except in two-man advantage situations. In a two-man advantage situation, the team with the advantage will play with five players. The rule was popular and adopted by the NHL and ECHL the next season.

Should the overtime period end with neither side scoring, the teams then take part in a "shootout", which goes to sudden death if tied after the third or fifth round, depending on the league.

Mats Sundin holds the record for most regular season overtime goals with 15.

In the Stanley Cup playoffs, overtime periods are identical to regulation periods, except that teams continue to play overtime periods until a goal is scored, as a winner and a loser must be determined. This can result in games having multiple overtime periods - a recent game between the Vancouver Canucks and the Dallas Stars in the 2006-2007 playoffs had four overtime periods before Vancouver scored. Joe Sakic has the record for most career playoff overtime goals with seven. Interestingly, three of the game's legendary players, Mark Messier (109 playoff games), Mario Lemieux (77 games), and Gordie Howe (68 games) never scored a playoff overtime goal. Overtime periods are played without commercial breaks.


Most lower minor leagues (ECHL, Central, UHL) have featured a shootout where, at the end of regulation, a shootout similar to the international tournament format is used.

However, in 2000, the ECHL adopted the AHL's four-on-four overtime before the shootout.

For the 2004-05 AHL season, the AHL followed the ECHL's lead and adopted a five-player shootout. The standard five-man shootout is used after four-on-four overtime for all minor leagues in North America.

Following the lead of minor leagues, as of the 2005-06 season, the NHL ends exhibition and regular season games tied after the five minute overtime period by a shootout. Three skaters per team take shots on the opposing goalies, as opposed to the five in international and minor-league competition. The team with the most goals during their three shots is declared the winner. However, if the same number of goals are scored by both teams during the shootout, a sudden death shootout is begun, as in international competition. The teams alternate taking penalty shots, until one team scores and the other does not, thus producing a winner. All players (except goalies) on a team's roster must shoot before any player can shoot twice.

The shootout is not used in the playoffs for any North American minor league. Instead, 20 minute overtime periods are used until a single goal is scored.

In the National Hockey League All-Star Skills Competition, the competition ends in a penalty shootout known as the Breakaway Relay.


Strategy is considered to be very important during penalty shots and overtime shootouts for both the shooter and the goalie. Both shooters and goalies commonly consult their teammates and coaches for advice on the opposing player's style of play. Shooters often consider the goalie's strengths and weaknesses (such as a fast glove or stick save), preferred goaltending style (such as butterfly or stand-up) and method of challenging the shooter. Goaltenders often consider the shooter's shot preference, expected angle of attack, a patented move a shooter commonly uses and even handedness of the shooter.

Most shooters attempt to out-deke the goalie in order to create a better scoring chance. Minnesota Wild forward Mikko Koivu and Tampa Bay Lightning forward Martin St. Louis are examples of players who commonly use this strategy. However, it is not uncommon for a shooter to simply shoot for an opening without deking. This is commonly referred to as sniping. This is most commonly performed when a goalie challenges a shooter by giving them an open hole (by keeping a glove, pad or stick out of position or being out of sound goaltending position all-together to tempt the shooter to aim for the given opening). Vancouver Canuck forward Markus Naslund and former NHL forward Brett Hull are commonly referred to as snipers. Very rarely a shooter may take a slapshot or wrist shot from the point or top of the slot. This is almost exclusively performed when a shooter either has a high level of confidence in their shot or they attempt to catch the goalie by surprise. Minnesota Wild forward Brian Rolston and Anaheim Mighty Ducks defenseman Chris Pronger have both used this strategy with success. In fact, Pronger succeeded in using this strategy in the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals on a penalty shot against Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward.

Selected playoff overtime contests

  • March 24, 1936 - Detroit's Mud Bruneteau ends the longest Stanley Cup playoff game ever, scoring the game's only goal in a 1-0 victory over the Montreal Maroons. The goal came 16:30 into the sixth overtime period for a total of 116:30 of overtime. The game was a mere 3:30 short of the equivalent of playing three games back-to-back-to-back.
  • April 23, 1950 - Pete Babando scores at 28:31 of overtime to give the Detroit Red Wings a 4-3 win in the seventh game of the Stanley Cup Finals over the New York Rangers. It was the first time that a seventh game of a Final series went to overtime.
  • April 21, 1951 - Bill Barilko scores at 2:53 of overtime to give the Toronto Maple Leafs a 3-2 win in the fifth game of the Stanley Cup Finals over the Montreal Canadiens. All five games in the series needed overtime to be decided.
  • April 16, 1954 - Tony Leswick scores at 4:20 of overtime to give the Detroit Red Wings a 2-1 win in the seventh game of the Stanley Cup Finals over the Montreal Canadiens. No seventh game of a Final series has gone to overtime since.
  • April 23, 1964 - Bobby Baun of the Toronto Maple Leafs nets a game winner against Detroit 1:43 into overtime in Game 6 of the Finals. The goal is notable because Baun had broken his ankle earlier in the game. It was frozen and taped, and Baun returned to the ice to score the winning goal.
  • May 10, 1970 - One of the most indelible moments in sports history is the sight of Bobby Orr's "in flight" goal that gave the Boston Bruins a 4-3 win and a four game sweep of the St. Louis Blues in the Stanley Cup Finals.
  • May 12, 1986 - Doug Wickenheiser's overtime goal gives the St. Louis Blues a 6-5 win over the Calgary Flames in Game 6 of the Campbell Conference Finals. The goal, known as the "Monday Night Miracle", capped a 5-1 comeback, made all the more impressive that all four comeback goals were scored in the last ten minutes of the third period.
  • May 15, 1990 - After hardly playing in overtime, Petr Klima came off the bench late in triple overtime and scored almost immediately to end the longest overtime in NHL Finals history. The goal gave the Edmonton Oilers a 3-2 victory over the Boston Bruins in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals, setting the stage for the Oilers' fifth cup in seven years.
  • April 30, 1994 - Pavel Bure scores 2:20 into the second overtime of the seventh game of the opening round of Vancouver's playoff series with Calgary. The win gave the Vancouver Canucks three consecutive overtime wins over the favored Calgary Flames, who squandered a 3-1 series lead.
  • May 27, 1994 - Stephane Matteau ends the Eastern Conference Finals with a wrap-around goal on New Jersey's rookie goaltender Martin Brodeur. It was Matteau's second overtime goal of the series and propelled the New York Rangers to their first Finals appearance in fifteen years.
  • April 11, 2007 - Roberto Luongo, goaltender for the Vancouver Canucks, plays and wins his first career playoff game while making 72 saves, one shy of Kelly Hrudey's record; the game would be the 6th longest ever, going into quadruple overtime. Henrik Sedin scored the winning goal.

Longest NHL overtime games

This is a list of the longest National Hockey League (NHL) overtime games.

Overtime Length
Away Team Score Home Team Date Scorer
1. 116:30 Detroit Red Wings 1 - 0 Montreal Maroons March 24, 1936 Mud Bruneteau
2. 104:46 Boston Bruins 0 - 1 Toronto Maple Leafs April 3, 1933 Ken Doraty
3. 92:01 Philadelphia Flyers 2 - 1 Pittsburgh Penguins May 4, 2000 Keith Primeau
4. 80:48 Mighty Ducks of Anaheim 4 - 3 Dallas Stars April 24, 2003 Petr Sykora
5. 79:15 Pittsburgh Penguins 3 - 2 Washington Capitals April 24, 1996 Petr Nedved
6. 78:06 Dallas Stars 4 - 5 Vancouver Canucks April 11, 2007 Henrik Sedin
7. 70:18 Toronto Maple Leafs 3 - 2 Detroit Red Wings March 23, 1943 Jack McLean
8. 69:03 San Jose Sharks 1 - 2 Dallas Stars May 4, 2008 Brenden Morrow
9. 68:52 New York Rangers 1 - 2 Montreal Canadiens March 28, 1930 Gus Rivers
10. 68:47 New York Islanders 3 - 2 Washington Capitals April 18, 1987†† Pat LaFontaine
11. 65:43 New Jersey Devils 0 - 1 Buffalo Sabres April 27, 1994 Dave Hannan
12. 61:09 Montreal Canadiens 3 - 2 Detroit Red Wings March 27, 1951 Maurice Richard
13. 60:40 New York Americans 3 - 2 New York Rangers March 27, 1938 Lorne Carr
14. 59:32 New York Rangers 4 - 3 Montreal Canadiens March 26, 1932 Fred Cook
15. 59:25 Boston Bruins 2 - 1 New York Rangers March 21, 1939 Mel Hill
16. 57:34 Dallas Stars 3 - 2 Edmonton Oilers April 27, 1999 Joe Nieuwendyk
17. 56:12 Chicago Blackhawks 3 - 2 Anaheim Ducks May 19, 2015 Marcus Kruger
18. 55:13 Edmonton Oilers 3 - 2 Boston Bruins May 15, 1990* Petr Klima
19. 54:51 Dallas Stars 2 - 1 Buffalo Sabres June 19, 1999** † Brett Hull
20. 54:47 Detroit Red Wings 3 - 2 Carolina Hurricanes June 8, 2002 * Igor Larionov
21. 54:41 New York Rangers 2 - 1 Washington Capitals May 2, 2012 Marian Gaborik
22. 53:54 Philadelphia Flyers 3 - 2 Toronto Maple Leafs April 16, 2003 Mark Recchi
23. 53:50 Chicago Black Hawks 3 - 2 Montreal Canadiens April 9, 1931* Cy Wentworth
24. 52:12 Montreal Canadiens 1 - 2 Chicago Black Hawks March 26, 1961 Murray Balfour
25. 52:08 Boston Bruins 3 - 4 Chicago Blackhawks June 12, 2013* Andrew Shaw
26. 51:49 Detroit Red Wings 2 - 1 Montreal Canadiens April 1, 1937 Hec Kilrea
*Stanley Cup Finals game
**Stanley Cup winning goal
† Series-clinching goal
†† Game 7

Notable minor league overtimes


Five AHL games have run into a fourth overtime period.

Overtime Length
Away Team Score Home Team Date
1. 74:56 Houston Aeros 1 - 2 Hamilton Bulldogs May 30, 2003
2. 74:08 Rochester Americans 2 - 3 New Haven Nighthawks April 10, 1982
3. 62:42 Syracuse Stars 3 - 2 Cleveland Barons April 4, 1938
4. 61:46 Cleveland Barons 2 - 3 Pittsburgh Hornets April 14, 1953
5. 60:17 Nova Scotia Oilers 4 - 3 Maine Mariners April 11, 1985


York Lions and Lakehead Thunderwolves went to a fourth overtime (50:47 minutes of Overtime) on Februray 15, 2007 in Thunder Bay, Ontario. to decide a winner in OUA men’s playoff hockey action. Lakehead won the game at the 13-second mark of the fourth overtime period when Michael Wehrstedt beat Lions goaltender Kevin Druce with the winner in a 3-2 marathon. Both goaltenders shone for their teams, as Druce made a remarkable 82 saves, while Chris Whitley made 54 for Lakehead.


A May 5, 2000 game between the Louisiana IceGators and Greenville (SC) Grrrowl lasted 61:24 of overtime, with the Grrrowl winning, 3-2.

See also


  • The National Hockey League Official Guide and Record Book
  • Diamond, Dan. (1992) The Official National Hockey League Stanley Cup Centennial Book