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What are the overtime rules for the 2024 NHL Stanley Cup finals?

With the 2024 NHL Stanley Cup Final game 7 up us, it’s time to look at one of the most thrilling and intriguing parts of the game and how it works: Overtime.

With the 2024 NHL Stanley Cup Final game 7 up us, it’s time to look at one of the most thrilling and intriguing parts of the game and how it works: Overtime.

The Florida Panthers and the Edmonton Oilers are just one win away from winning the Stanley Cup - victory tonight would see the Florida squad lift the famous trophy for the first time in history after failed attempts in 1996 and last year. The Panthers and Edmonton Oilers are tied 3-3 in the series, heading into Game 7 in Florida.

By far the most entertaining part of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, overtime is most definitely what most hockey fans love to see when the post season rolls around. Yet, how does it work? Is there a difference between the playoffs and the regular season? Let’s find out.

A little bit of context for the Stanley Cup

Fans will likely recall the epic Game 1 clash in last year’s Eastern Conference Final between the Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes. With the teams tied on a scored of 2-2 at the end of regulation time, they entered what would turn out to be a marathon of overtime. Indeed, it wasn’t until the dying seconds of the fourth overtime period that the Panthers’ Matthew Tkachuk sent Florida fans into pandemonium with his game winning goal. It was a moment that showcased everything we love about the game of hockey, but it also brought into focus the way in which overtime works in the NHL. Let’s get into it.

What are the overtime rules for the Stanley Cup Playoffs?

For starters, they differ from those used in the regular season. To begin with, overtime is played at five-on-five and the periods last for 20 minutes in the same way that normal periods do. It is also sudden death, which means the first team to score wins the game. There is no shootout i.e., should neither team score by the end of the first overtime period, they go to a second and continue on until a goal is scored. This of course is what gave us four periods in the above mentioned example.

How do overtime rules differ from the NHL’s regular season?

The first noticeable difference is that of period time. During the regular season, overtime is played for just five minutes unlike the 20 we that we see in the post season. Again it’s sudden death, so the first to score a goal wins the game. The next significant difference is that of the number of players.

Overtime during the regular season is played in a three-on-three format with both teams having their goaltender as well as three skaters on the ice. It’s worth noting, that this format was only adopted by the league ahead of the 2015-16 season.

Additionally, there’s also another interesting tweak which is related to penalties. If a penalty occurs during overtime, the team which receives the power play, is allowed to field another skater, meaning the game becomes a four-on-three situation during the duration of the penalty. The same applies if another penalty is committed i.e., five-on-three. Interestingly, once the penalty expires, the player can return to the ice and the teams play evenly at four-on-four until the next whistle, at which point they return to three-on-three.

What happens if no team scores in overtime during the regular season?

Unlike the playoffs, which have no shootout as mentioned before, the regular season does. That’s to say that if two teams are still tied after overtime, they go directly to a shootout. At that point, the teams alternate with each side sending a player down the ice alone to face the goalie in an attempt to score. There are three rounds used to determine the winner.

Should the teams be tied after the three rounds, it then moves to sudden death with both sides continuing to alternate until one scores and the other misses.

The Game 4 clash between the Florida Panthers and the Edmonton Oilers kicks off at 6 p.m. MDT local time - 8 p.m. EDT / 5 p.m. PDT tonight, Saturday 15 June 2024 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta. The game will be aired live on ABC (with live streaming on ESPN+).