The excitement of 3-on-3 overtime in the NHL doesn’t look like it will be wearing off anytime soon. The fast-paced, end-to-end brand of hockey that it encourages has already made for some memorable moments.
The NHL rolled out the new format in time for the 2015-16 season. The goal was to have more games end before being decided by a shootout. It worked, with only 38.9 percent of overtime games going to a shootout compared to 55.2 percent in 2014-15.
The 3-on-3 format would seem to lend itself to a lot of luck. After all, giveaways and bad bounces are more costly than ever. However, the amount of success, and lack thereof, that teams have had in overtime shows that there may in fact be a method to this madness. Below is a look at the best and worst 3-on-3 overtime teams since its NHL inception.
THE BEST OF 3-ON-3
LOS ANGELES KINGS
3-on-3 record: 16-3
Nobody is better at 3-on-3 hockey than the Kings, who have made an art form out of ending games in the extra frame, just as they did on Thursday in a win over the Penguins. They have a league-leading 16 overtime wins since the new format was introduced. And none of those goals have come with a man advantage.
The same core group has combined for all 16 game winning goals: Jeff Carter, Anze Kopitar, Alec Martinez, Marian Gaborik, Tanner Pearson and Nic Dowd. Drew Doughty, surprisingly, doesn’t have a 3-on-3 goal for the Kings, although he does have five OT assists.
The key to the Kings’ success in overtime has been their patience. They don’t rush the puck up the ice if there isn’t a good opportunity, often entering the attacking zone 3-on-3 and moving the puck around. This helps to prevent odd-man rushes from turnovers.
That the Kings have become such a dominant force at 3-on-3 is a bit of a surprise. In 2014-15 they were 1-7 in games that ended in overtime.
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
3-on-3 record: 7-2
Tampa’s games don’t end in overtime as often, but when they do it is usually the Lightning who are celebrating. If excitement is the goal in 3-on-3 hockey they are the blueprint.
The Lightning use their speed and skill to beat teams in transition, as every takeaway has the potential to be turned into a scoring chance. The second the puck is turned over the Bolts already have players going the other way looking for an outlet pass.
The team has spread around the overtime scoring. Vladislav Namestnikov is the only Tampa player who has scored more than one 3-on-3 goal.
3-on-3 record: 10-4
Calgary’s overtime success has a lot to do with one man: Johnny Gaudreau. The speedy winger has three goals and nine points in 3-on-3 overtime, helping Calgary pick up 10 overtime wins since the start of 2015-16.
The Flames are another team that creates a lot of chances in transition. Instead of breakaways, however, they tend to have success with 2-on-1s. It is often Gaudreau who plays provider, finding an open teammate with a cross crease pass.
Calgary was one of the best overtime teams even before the implementation of 3-on-3, however. They went 9-4 in games that ended in overtime during 2014-15.
THE WORST OF 3-ON-3
3-on-3 Record: 1-10
If the game goes beyond 60 minutes there is a darn good chance the Wild aren’t going to be on the winning end. They have only won once in overtime since 3-on-3 was introduced.
Watch them play and it becomes pretty clear why. The Wild have a nasty defensive habit of losing opposition players in transition, which is playing with fire during 3-on-3. They overcommit to players, and the open man makes them pay. Maybe new coach Bruce Boudreau can fix that.
The Wild’s only 3-on-3 overtime win came November 12 of last year against the Carolina Hurricanes. Jason Zucker has the only 3-on-3 overtime goal in team history.
3-on-3 Record: 2-13
For all the talent the Predators possess, especially on the blueline, they have not been able to put it together in 3-on-3 overtime. Nobody in the league has allowed more overtime goals since the new rules were introduced.
The Predators had a solid 52.4 Corsi For percentage as a team last season at 5-on-5. However, in 3-on-3 situations that dips to a league-worst 28.42 percent according to Corsica Hockey, as they see themselves consistently out chanced.
In order for a team to lose 13 of 15 overtime games a lot of things have to go wrong, and they have for Nashville. Mainly, the team has been caught too deep forechecking in the opponent’s zone, allowing odd man rushes or breakaways. Pekka Rinne has allowed some soft OT goals as well, which doesn’t help any.
3-on-3 Record: 4-9
It’s less the lack of success, but more the contrast that makes the Ducks such an intriguing 3-on-3 team. Between 2013 and 2015, before 3-on-3 was introduced, Anaheim was one of the league’s best overtime teams with a 15-4 record.
Take away a man on each team, and the Ducks have struggled with the extra space created. Their players get beat often in overtime, recently by an incredible individual effort by the New York Islanders’ Josh Bailey.
It’s just 11 games into their 2016-17 season and the Ducks have already lost twice in the extra frame.