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How Often Do NHL Games End in a Shootout?

During the 2004-05 lockout, which saw a season lost to labour strife, the league had a lot of time to institute new rules and changes to the NHL game. One of the biggest changes made was the addition of the shootout range, which was made to ensure there was a winner for each NHL game and to eliminate the tie.

One of the big reasons for this change was that the league felt that too many games were ending in ties - during the 2003-04 season, 13.8% of games ended in ties (170 of 1,230 games).

Now in its 9th season with the shootout, we have more than data to look at how often shootout occurs in the NHL. In looking at each game from the 2005-06 season to the 2012-13 season, we see that a total of 1,235 regular season games went to the shootout out of a total of 9,330 games, which is equivalent to 13.2% of games. Interestingly, this is nearly identical to the rate of games ending in ties.

So on average, around 13.5% of regular season games will end in a shooutout or approximately 165 total games during a regular 82 game schedule.

Here is a look at each NHL season since the shootout rule was adopted: 

Talk in the league has now started to shift towards too many games being decided by shootouts - even though the same rate of games are ending in a shootout as were ending in ties. But ideas such as extending the 4 on 4 overtime to 10 minutes or potentially reducing the players on ice to 3 on 3 after 5 minutes of overtime into a second overtime period have been batted around as ways to reduce shootouts, which if implemented and successful would see more games end in normal play.

For more on the overtime period: How Often Do NHL Games Require Overtime?




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