The duration of a hockey game in the National Hockey League (NHL) or any other professional hockey leagues is 60 minutes which is divided into 3 halves. Each half consists of 20 minutes. Unlike football, the timer is stopped whenever there is an interruption in the game. At the end, if the game results into a draw, it is likely to have an overtime to decide the winner.
The overtime is composed of five minutes and it only takes place if the game is drawn during the normal time. In this crucial phase, instead of having five skaters there are only four skaters on the ice. As the number of skaters on the ice decreases, the opportunity to score a goal immediately increases. As soon as the puck crosses the goal line, the game ends. The team which scores first in this overtime is announced as the winner of the match. And that is why, perhaps, it is called “sudden death” overtime.
But if after five minutes of overtime the result is still a draw then there is a shootout to break the tie. Both the teams choose the three shooters to represent their team. The home team gets the benefit to choose between a shot and a save first. Then it is the shooters against the goalies, where the shooters try to score while the goalies try to save.
If it remains a draw after all the six shots, the shootout continues with a new single shooter of each team per round. And then the first team to find the nets wins if the opposition fails to score.
The overtime period goes through a slight change in NHL playoffs. There are twenty minutes to play in the overtime period where the strength of the teams remains five. Shootout being excluded, if the game is tied after the first twenty minutes of playoff overtime, the match continues with another overtime until one of the teams score.
The historic game played between the Detroit Red Wings and the Montreal Maroons in 1936 holds the record of having five complete and one nearly completed overtime periods. It is by far the longest overtime played in the NHL history. Red Wings won the match with a Mud Bruneteau finisher when it was sixteen and a half minutes in the clock of the sixth overtime.
It is Bobby Orr who scored the most remarkable goal of NHL overtime on May 10, 1970. Orr, playing for Boston Bruins, was all set to shoot the puck when he was tripped. He was in the air when he shot and from that position his shot crossed the goal line. It gave the Boston Bruins the Stanley Cup to become the NHL champions.
Apart from NHL, it was in the Vancouver Winter Olympics 2010 when the most memorable hockey overtime goal was scored. Canada and U.S., both fighting for the gold medal, ended in a 2-2 draw after the regulation time. In the eighth minute of the first overtime, Canada’s Sidney Crosby managed to put the puck behind the bar to give the host nation the gold medal.
Just like football, the overtime period in a hockey game is considered as the most thrilling part of it, and when it is a matter of winning the championship or a gold medal it does give you goose bumps. All of a sudden you can get a new hero as well as a villain. You never know!