TORONTO – In some hockey circles, it was a milestone worthy of more derision than celebration.
The NHL saw its 1,000th game decided by a shootout on Wednesday night when the Minnesota Wild came out on top of a six-round tiebreaker against the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place.
It was only fitting the Oilers were involved—they’re tied with the New York Rangers for the most number of shootout games at 80, according to statistics provided by the NHL.
The tiebreaking format was established coming out of the lockout in 2005 and hasn’t entirely caught on. There are still many close to the game who don’t think it’s the best method to determine a winner.
One thing the stats show through 1,000 shootouts is that strategy can pretty much be thrown out the window. Home teams get to choose when they shoot and the majority elect to go first—even though the stats show they’re less successful.
Through Wednesday’s games, home teams had won 474 shootouts (47.4 per cent) while those shooting first had won 490 (49 per cent).
The NHL’s first shootout star remains its most productive player. Jussi Jokinen caused a stir in 2005-06 when he scored on his first nine shootout attempts for the Dallas Stars. Now playing for Carolina, the Finn tops the NHL with 28 career shootout goals.
Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby and Toronto’s Phil Kessel are co-leaders with 13 game-deciding goals.
Vyacheslav Kozlov has moved on to the KHL but remains the most efficient shooter in the history of the NHL tiebreaker. He made good on 58.7 per cent of his attempts (27 of 46) before moving to Russia last season.
The top shootout goalies both play in the Atlantic Division. Henrik Lundqvist of the Rangers is tops with 38 victories while Devils backup Johan Hedberg has the highest career save percentage at .754 (84 of 107).
Among the other shootout stats worth noting:
—Most wins: Devils and Rangers, 47.
—Most losses: Panthers, 47.
—Highest winning percentage: Devils, .644 (47-26).
—Most individual attempts: Brad Richards, 63.
The shootout is here to stay.
Those who haven’t embraced it can take some solace in the fact a shootout win isn’t technically worth as much as those that come before it. Prior to last season, the NHL’s general managers altered the formula so that shootout victories aren’t counted when breaking a tie between teams with the same number of points in the standings.