There’s nothing better than NHL playoff overtime. If someone tries to tell you otherwise, don’t pay any attention to them. They’re crazy.
Here’s a snapshot of the NHL’s 16 playoff teams and how they’ve done in post-season OT. Teams are ranked by number of playoff overtime wins, with their playoff OT winning percentage in parentheses.
Toronto Maple Leafs: 58-56-1 (.504)
There’s no crying in baseball, and there’s no tying in NHL playoff overtime. Well, except for Game 2 of the 1951 semifinal between Toronto and Boston. The Maple Leafs and Bruins were knotted at 1-1 through three periods, and neither team was able to score in the first 20 minutes of overtime. It was nearly midnight on a Saturday, and due to city bylaws in Toronto, the game couldn’t continue into the early morning hours of Sunday. So, they called it off, travelled to Boston, and played the second Game 2 in two days. It worked out well for the Leafs, not so much for the Bruins. Boston had won the opener and could’ve grabbed a 2-0 series edge if only they could’ve scored in overtime. But they didn’t, and Toronto won the next four games to advance to the Stanley Cup final, where they beat Montreal in five games. (Related: That was the year Bill Barilko scored his famous Cup-winning goal and then died in a plane crash while on a fishing trip in Northern Ontario. To quote The Tragically Hip: The last goal he ever scored (in overtime) / Won the Leafs the Cup / They didn’t win another till 1962 / The year he was discovered.)
Boston Bruins: 57-73-3 (.429)
Hold on, the Bruins have three ties in playoff overtime? On top of the 1951 draw against Toronto, Boston had a pair of ties back in the 1927 Stanley Cup final against the (original) Ottawa Senators. According to a story in the Ottawa Citizen, Boston and Ottawa played two 10-minute overtime periods in Game 1 but failed to score (neither team scored in the first 60 minutes, either). To quote the newspaper: “In the 20-minute overtime period, the ice became so lumpy that the players were unable to pilot the puck. Consequently, NHL president Frank Calder ordered the game ended at the end of 80 minutes of play.” The Bruins and Senators also skated to a 1-1 tie in Game 3, playing a scoreless overtime period that lasted 10 or perhaps 20 minutes. In the end, Ottawa was awarded the Stanley Cup after winning the series 2-0-2.
Colorado Avalanche: 38-29 (.567)
Surely the Avs’ biggest playoff OT win came in the 1996 Stanley Cup final, when Uwe Krupp scored in triple overtime to give Colorado a 1-0 victory and four-game sweep over upstart Florida.
St. Louis Blues: 35-31 (.530)
In their first NHL season in 1967-68, the Blues made it to the Stanley Cup final out of the league’s new expansion division (and did so again in ’68-69 and ’69-70). St. Louis went 4-2 in playoff overtime in the first two rounds en route to series wins over Minnesota and Philadelphia, but lost twice in overtime against Montreal in the Cup final and were swept in four games.
New York Islanders: 34-16 (.680)
Perhaps you prefer Bob Nystrom’s Game 6 OT winner against Philadelphia in the 1980 Cup final to kick-start the Isles’ four-peat dynasty. Or maybe you like Pat LaFontaine’s Game 7 quadruple-overtime winner against Washington in the ‘Easter Epic’ in 1987. And hey, don’t forget David Volek’s Game 7 overtime goal that prevented Mario Lemieux’s Pittsburgh Penguins from going for a third straight Cup in 1993.
Washington Capitals: 32-36 (.471)
With the Caps trailing 2-0 in their first-round series against Columbus last spring, Lars Eller scored midway through double overtime in Game 3. And the rest is history.
Pittsburgh Penguins: 30-31 (.492)
The Penguins’ last playoff OT win came in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final against Ottawa. Chris Kunitz’s goal at 5:09 of the second overtime period sent Pittsburgh to the Cup final, where they beat Nashville for their second consecutive championship.
Dallas Stars: 30-40 (.429)
Narrator’s voice: “The year was 1999. The scene: the Stanley Cup final. Brett Hull, with his skate firmly planted in the crease, scored in triple overtime to deliver Dallas its first-ever Stanley Cup.”
San Jose Sharks: 23-23 (.500)
The Sharks don’t play favorites. They’re 10-10 in playoff OT at home and 13-13 in playoff OT on the road.
Carolina Hurricanes: 21-14 (.600)
The Hurricanes’ last playoff OT win came in Game 7 of their second-round victory over Boston in 2009. That was also their last playoff win, period, as they were swept in the semis by Pittsburgh and haven’t been since seen in the post-season until this year.
Calgary Flames: 18-27 (.400)
The Flames were on the wrong side of the fastest playoff overtime in NHL history, as Montreal’s Brian Skrudland needed only nine seconds to lift the Canadiens to victory in Game 2 of the Cup final. The Habs went on to win the next three games to take the title.
Tampa Bay Lightning: 15-8 (.652)
Martin St-Louis scored a biggie in double overtime of Game 6 in the 2004 Cup final. It extended the series to seven games, and ultimately the Lightning won their first-ever Stanley Cup. Of course, if you ask Flames fans, Martin Gelinas’ goal late in the third period of Game 6 should’ve counted. But that’s another story.
Nashville Predators: 8-8 (.500)
The Predators joined the NHL in 1998-99 and made the playoffs for the first time in 2004. They lost in the first round, a pattern which repeated itself the next four times they made the playoffs. It wasn’t until 2011 that Nashville won a playoff round, and that series victory included their first playoff overtime win, a Game 5 OT decision over Anaheim, with Jerrod Smithson needing just 1:57 of extra time to lift the Preds.
Columbus Blue Jackets: 4-3 (.571)
The Blue Jackets’ seven playoff overtime games have all come against Washington or Pittsburgh. Columbus went 2-2 in extra time against the Capitals last spring, and a combined 2-1 against the Penguins in first-round clashes in 2014 and 2017. That’s pretty good, except that the Jackets are still seeking their first playoff series victory in franchise history.
Vegas Golden Knights: 2-1 (.667)
William Karlsson and Erik Haula are tied for the most playoff OT goals in Vegas history, with one apiece.
Winnipeg Jets: 0-2 (.000)
The Atlanta Thrashers played a grand total of four playoff games and never saw overtime. The Jets have at least forced extra time on a couple of occasions, but they’re still looking for a reason to celebrate.