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How often is overtime needed in the NHL?

Did you know that the average NHL requires extra time approximately 23% of the time? Between the 2005-06 and 2012-13 NHL seasons, a total of 2,176 out of 9,330 regular season games went to overtime, which is equal to 23.3% of games.

It’s this frequency of overtimes that leads to statements like “playing for overtime” as teams are thought to play it a bit safer in the closing minutes of a tie game to ensure that they walk away from the game with at least a point.

Here is a season by season breakdown of the percentage of games that need extra time:

But when games get to the overtime period, how do they most typically end? By way of shootout or teams closing it out in the five-minute four on four period? 

Of the 2,176 regular season games heading to extra time between 2005-06 and 2012-13 a total of 941 games or 43.2% of overtimes ended up being won within the five-minute four on four period preceding the necessity of a shootout to declare a definitive winner for the game. This means that out of all 9,330 regular season games, an average of 10.1% of games are ended by way of a goal in the overtime period.

In contrast, when it comes to the shootout, a total of 1,235 games were settled by this method, which is 56.8% all games going to overtime and 13.2% of all games overall.  

For more on shootouts: How Often Do Games End in the Shootout?


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