What are overtime rules in the NHL Playoffs?

Brooks Orpik, Washington Capitals Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Brooks Orpik, Washington Capitals Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /

So last night the two late games went into overtime to the delight of our old friend Samantha Pell. But what makes playoff overtime hockey different from the regular season besides more stress? With the Washington Capitals not in the playoffs I actually enjoyed the overtime games last night.

Well they basically keep playing until one team scores and whoever scores first is the winner and the game is over. In the regular season it was different as it was only five minutes and three on three play. If nobody scored then the game would head to a shootout.

There are no shootouts in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It’s 20 minute periods until somebody scores.

The full section of the NHL rule book on playoff overtime can be found here. 3 on 3 regular season overtime began in the 2015-16 season where the old format prior was five on five until 1999 and four on four. Both teams earned a point if nobody scored in overtime.

Here is a snippet of the NHL overtime rules for playoff games:

"-If the game is tied after regulation, the teams will play another full 20-minute period of overtime at 5-on-5 hockey-It is once again sudden-death style, so the first team to score wins the game-If no one scores in the first OT period, the game continues into a second, and a third, and so on and so forth until a team scores to win it"

According to the history of NHL overtime rules the league adopted a five on five 20 minus overtime period in 1921 before trimming it down to 10 minutes in 1927. They used the sudden death format that we still see today.

In 1942 though the NHL did away with overtime in the regular season due to the war. Playoffs had overtime anyway because you know you still got to award the Cup.

Must Read. Breaking down the odds of the Capitals in 2023 NHL Draft Lottery. light

The shootout is strictly for regular season and it wasn’t adopted until post lockout in 2005.