NHL Playoff Overtime Rules Explained

On this next Hockey 101 course we explain playoff overtime rules
Washington Capitals
Washington Capitals / Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

IF the Washington Capitals make the Stanley Cup playoffs there might be some overtime games they have to deal with on their path towards more greatness. So in this piece we will explain the playoff overtime rules for those new to the sport and a refresher course for our veteran readers.

It is the best overtime in sports if your team ins't in it. It's the most stressful overtime in sports if your team is in it. Let's hope for some healthy playoff overtime stress soon.

Two words you need to know: sudden death.

That's right. Unlike the regular season there are no one point or moral victories. You either win or you lose. And if you gotta play the whole night to decide the winner so be it.

What is also different is the five on five compared to the regular season three on three. There also isn't any five minute periods or shootouts. Nope. Just 20 minute periods until a goal is scored from one of the teams.

Power plays are normal and it's an extra workout and mental game for goalies on both sides. Neither one wants to be the one who lets the puck gets past them in front of thousands of fans in an arena and millions watching around the world.

There are intermissions in between the overtimes in case the game needs multiple overtime games to decide the winner. Older Caps fans will recall the 1980s four overtime Easter Epic that unfortunately caught the home team on the wrong side of history.

But sometimes overtime can yield good results. And if it's a Game 7 overtime and you win it's fun. When it's against the defending Stanley Cup champions on the road with a higher seed its super duper fun. Just ask Joel Ward.

Sorry football fans. Sorry hoops fans. Overtime in the playoffs in those sports is intense but nothing like a playoff overtime where the puck bounce can go either way. There's a term we like to use around here, the Cardiac Caps.

Yes Caps playoff overtime games are that stressful whether it be Game 1 or Game 7 but obviously the Game 7 overtimes hit different. Notice how I didn't mention baseball extra innings.

That's not sudden death. Basketball isn't sudden death. NFL WAS sudden death but they keep changing their rules every year it seems like. College football overtime is fun keep it. But none are like NHL playoff overtime.