NHL Playoff Overtime Rules Explained

2022 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Six
2022 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Six / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

Playoff season is nearly upon us. The race for the division crown is still extremely tight. Every point counts. Although they have not officially clinched a spot yet, the Avalanche are sure to be one of the teams in the mix once the playoffs begin.

The rules for the playoffs are significantly different than the regular season. Some say they are far better. Gone are the days of the skills competition to decide a winner of a game (shootout) and gone are the days of being rewarded for losing a game (point for overtime loss).

Among the rule changes for the playoffs are continuous, 5-on-5 overtime. We play until we get a winner. For the old-school hockey fan, it’s a welcomed change from the regular season. Most say the Stanley Cup is the hardest trophy to win in sports, a gruelling tournament that only the best of the best can succeed at, and playing many overtime games doesn’t help lessen the grind.

If a playoff game finishes the regulation 60 minutes with a tie score, the teams move to play overtime. The 3-on-3 format of the regular season is over, and playoff overtime is regular 5-on-5 hockey. The overtime periods are 20 minutes long, like a regular period, and the games are sudden death, which means the first to score wins the game.

If a period ends without a goal, another period is played. The game continues indefinitely until one team scores and wins the game. There are no shootouts in the playoffs.

The intensity of playoff overtime is second to none, and for new or social NHL fans, the playoff overtime is a spectacle to watch. There’s no doubt that playoff overtime has converted many a person into a rabid NHL fan, as when your team scores to win the game the feeling is exhilarating!