The 2021-22 National Hockey League regular season will come to an end on April 29, which is when 16 teams will begin their playoff journey in hopes of lifting the Stanley Cup.
The playoffs are also fascinating for another reason: overtime.
Overtime play in the postseason is very different from the regular season, which has led to the longest games in NHL history.
Before diving into the five longest contests, here’s a brief explanation of the league’s overtime rules:
How long is overtime during the NHL regular season?
A standard NHL game is 60 minutes long divided into three 20-minute periods. If a regular season game is tied, it goes into a five-minute overtime period where the first team to score wins the game. If neither team scores in that duration, the game is decided on penalties.
How long is overtime during the NHL playoffs?
In the playoffs, overtime periods are 20 minutes long and the first team to score wins the game. However, if the game is still tied after 20 minutes, another 20-minute overtime period will begin. This continues until one team scores a goal.
What are the longest games in NHL history?
With the rules explained, the five longest games in NHL history occurred in the postseason. Each game needed at least five overtimes to decide, but two of them needed six:
Detroit Red Wings vs. Montreal Maroons, 1936: 6 OTs
The longest game in NHL history occurred in 1936. In Game 1 of the national semifinal (before the conferences arrived), the Maroons hosted the Red Wings in a lengthy cliffhanger. Detroit right wing Mud Bruneteau scored after 4:30 p.m. in the sixth overtime period, giving the Red Wings a 1–0 victory and a 1–0 series lead. They would eventually sweep Montreal in three games en route to winning the Stanley Cup.
Total duration: 176:30
Boston Bruins at Toronto Maple Leafs, 1933: 6 OT
Before the Red Wings and Maroons, the Bruins and Maple Leafs went into a sixth period of overtime in Game 5 of the 1933 semifinals. Maple Leafs right wing Ken Doraty sent Toronto to the final after scoring 4:46 into the sixth period to give him his team a 1-0 win and a 3-2 series victory. Toronto, however, fell in the national final.
Total duration: 164:46
Philadelphia Flyers at Pittsburgh Penguins, 2000: 5 overtime
The next three longest games occurred at the turn of the century, beginning with the frills and Penguins in Game 4 of the 2000 Eastern Conference semifinals. The game was tied 1-1 until Flyers center forward Keith Primeau broke the deadlock after 12:01 played during the fifth period of extra time. Primeau’s goal tied the series at 2–2, and the Flyers won the next two games to reach the Eastern Conference finals, where their streak ended.
Total length: 152:01
Columbus Blue Jackets at Tampa Bay Lightning, 2020: 5 OT
This game is the latest game that has such a long completion time. In Game 1 of the first round in the East, the Blue Jackets and Lightning got off to an exciting start. After 10:27 in quintuple overtime, Lightning center forward Brayden Point secured the puck after a deflection and shot from distance. Tampa Bay would go on to win the Stanley Cup that year.
Total duration: 150:27
Anaheim Mighty Ducks at Dallas Stars, 2003: 5 overtime
The fifth longest game in NHL history came in 2003 when the Ducks battled the Stars in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals. Tied 3-3 at the end of regulation, Ducks right wing Petr Sykora sealed the game 48 seconds into quintuple overtime to give his team a 4-3 win. The Anaheim race that season ended in the national final.
Total duration: 140:48
How many NHL games quadrupled in overtime?
Nine games in the NHL playoffs have quadrupled in overtime. The most recent came in 2008 when the Stars won 2-1 over the San Jose Sharks in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals.