Hockey Shoot Out

When I lived in Chicago and followed the Blackhawks (which I still do, from afar), there was no such animal as a “shoot out” (on the playing field, anyway). I asked a lady friend with whom I run if she knows what it means. She said Yes, but then proceeded to give me answers that were obviously wrong. (Why do some people say they know something when they don’t have the foggiest notion of the “thing.” Anyway, that’s just a side rant.

My guess, from the sports articles I’ve read, is that after a game is tied in regulation time, the teams play one o.t. period with 4 players each, instead of 5. (Is the ot period of the same duration as the others?) Then, if it is still tied, each team takes alternating turns shooting the puck in a net guarded only by the goalie. If it’s still tied (say 4-4), then I don’t know what happens.

Moving to the Game Room from GQ.

General Questions Moderator

NHL overtime is a 5-minute, sudden-death period, with 4 skaters, as you note. (The three “regular” periods are each 20 minutes long.)

If the game is still tied after the overtime period, they go to a shootout. A shootout is a minimum of three shots on goal (handled similarly to penalty shots) for each team – on these shots, the “shooting” team only has the one skater on the ice to attempt the shot, and the defending team only has the goalie on the ice.

If one team scores more than the other on those three shots, the game is over, and that team has won. If they have scored the same number after the three shots, additional rounds of shootout shots are conducted, until one team has scored on more than the other. (In other words, NHL games can no longer end in a tie.) The Blackhawks were in a shootout last season which went on for quite a while (10 rounds or so, IIRC).

NHL Overtime Rules

(Going to send a note to a moderator about moving this thread to the Game Room – on edit, Colibri is already on it!)

Thanks very much, kenobi 65. Answers all of my questions, and then some. I tried googling under “shoot out,” which was no help. Should’ve searched under hockey rules.

The shootout only happens in regulation (and pre-season/exhibition) games in the NHL. Playoff games continue with additional 20-minute periods, played 5 on 5 with the winner being the team that scores first.

Thanks. I got that from kenobi 65’s link. Thanks anyway.

Good add, mnemosyne.

Of course the one major problem with the NHL system is the magical third point that appears when a game goes to overtime.

Yeah, I’d meant to add that.

Before the NHL added the shootout (2005, I think), a team got two points for a win, one point for a tie, and zero points for a loss. Thus, each game was worth two points, and it was a question of whether both points went to one team, or if they split them.

Now, a team gets two points for a win, one point for a loss in overtime, and zero points for a loss in regulation time. Thus, if a game goes to overtime, it’s now worth a total of three points (two to the winner, one to the loser). That’s a change which some hockey fans dislike.


I have to believe that, due to that rule, teams almost never pull their goalie during overtime. You’d be throwing away the one point you’re already “earned”, in pursuit of the second point. (Plus, teams usually only pull their goalie when they’re behind, not when they’re tied.)

I would imagine that it’d only happen in situations in which the single point does the team no good (i.e., a late-season game in which the team needs two points in order to make the playoffs, or improve their playoff seeding).

Actually, OT losses have been worth a single point since the early 2000s, years before the shootout came in. The goal was to give teams the incentive to go for the win. NHL regular season overtime used to be boring as hell – pretty much everybody played for the tie and the guaranteed point.