What Does OTL Mean In Hockey? NHL Facts

Posted on May 17, 2019 by Dan Kent
OTL hockey

Ever heard the phrase OTL and wondered what it means? Here’s the simple answer.

What does OTL mean in hockey?

OTL stands for OverTime Loss – which means a team loses the game after going beyond regulation time and into an extra period known as a ‘sudden death overtime.’ This is a 5-minute 3 on 3 period during the regular season. It is a 20-minute period during the playoffs and repeats until someone scores.

What is Overtime?

In hockey, overtime is a way of finding a winner between two teams when the score is tied after regulation time.

While some minor leagues go straight to a shootout, most top-tier levels leagues like the NHL and AHL move to an extra but shorter period of extra play. As mentioned, this is five minutes during the regular season of the NHL.

Interestingly play is with three skaters instead of the usual five – which increases the chances of a goal being scored.

In this scenario, the play ends when one team scores a goal. The team that scores wins automatically, known as ‘sudden death’ overtime.

If neither team scores during the play, the game moves into a shootout, where players can score in 1-1 battles with the goalkeeper.

Overtime in the Playoffs

During playoff games (towards the end of the season during elimination rounds to reach the final), the overtime is extended from 5 to 20 minutes.

There is no shootout in playoffs, so if the score is still level at the end of the first overtime, a new period of 20 minutes is introduced until a team scores – between a regular 17-minute intermission. As you can imagine, the players are exhausted to their limits at this stage, but each play is thrilling to watch.

In overtime during playoffs, it is also a ‘sudden death’ situation – where the first goal declares the winner.

However, teams have all five skaters on the ice, rather than four like in the regular season overtime.

NHL Overtime Points

Suppose a game is tied, and you head into an overtime situation. In that case, both teams get one point (usually none for losing and two for winning).

Then the winner of the overtime gets another point.

So the phrase ‘overtime loss’ refers to the team that gets the point for tying a game but then loses the overtime. They didn’t lose in regular play, but they lost in overtime play and got one point.

No team wants to lose, but it’s ‘better’ in terms of points to lose in an overtime situation than it is to lose in regulation time – because you get that extra point.

What is SOL?

SOL stands for a shootout loss, and it’s when a team loses in the shootout – after a tied overtime. The winner of the shootout gets one extra point (2 overall), and the loser gets the standard 1 point during overtime.

The extra point is recorded as a SOL rather than an OTL. Players who score in the shootout will not accumulate points towards their regular season totals.

Dan Kent

About the author

Growing up in a hockey hotbed (Calgary, Alberta. And yes, I'm an Oiler fan), I decided to put my love and knowledge of the game to work. I started at five and am still playing today into my early 30s. By acquiring Brave Stick Hockey and rebranding it to Big Shot Hockey in 2023, I plan to teach people about this great game and educate them on the best equipment and history of the game. On a career level, I am in finance, running one of the largest financial websites in Canada, Stocktrades.ca.

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