What Does OTL Mean In Hockey? NHL Facts

Posted on May 17, 2019 by Dan Kent
OTL hockey

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

OTL stands for OverTime Loss – which means a team looses the game after going over regulation time and into extra known as a ‘sudden death’ overtime period of 5 minutes. (20 minutes during playoffs).

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 level leagues like the NHL and AHL move to an extra but shorter period of extra play. This is five minutes during the regular season of the NHL.

Pat Maroon sends Blues to WCF with Game 7 double overtime winner

Interestingly play is with four 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 – this is known as ‘sudden death’ overtime.

If neither team scores during the play, the game moves into a shootout – where players have a chance to 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 minutes to a full period of 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 a ‘sudden death’ situation as well – where the first goal declares the winner.

However, teams have all 5 skaters on the ice, rather than 4 like in the regular season overtime.

NHL Overtime Points

If a game is tied and head into an overtime situation, both teams get one point (usually none for loosing and two for winning).

Then the winner of the overtime gets another point.

So the phrase ‘overtime loss’ would refer to the team that gets a point for tieing a game but then goes on to lose the overtime. They didn’t lose in regular play but they lost in the overtime play, and they got one point for their scorecard.

No team wants to lose, but its ‘better’ in terms of point 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 shootout loss and it’s when a team loses in the shootout – after a tied overtime. The winner of the shootout gets 1 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.

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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