How Long Is A Hockey Game?

How Long Is A Hockey Game?

Discovering the duration of a hockey game is fundamental for fans and newcomers alike. Explore the factors influencing game length, including regulation time, overtime, and intermissions, to gain a comprehensive understanding of this dynamic sport.

How long is a hockey game?

2 hours and 29 minutes

An NHL hockey game is 2 hours and 29 minutes on average, from start to finish. It consists of three, 20 minute periods, totaling 60 minutes; five minutes of potential overtime; and an hour and a half of intermissions, stoppages, and commercial breaks.

The structure of a hockey games is as follows:

1. Regulation:

  • Three periods, 20 minutes each.
  • 18-minute intermissions.

2. Overtime:

  • One period, 5 minutes.
  • Sudden-death:
    • whoever scores first wins.

3. Shootout:

  • 3 shooters per team, alternating shooters.
    • The team that scores more wins.
  • Sudden-death format if a tie persists:
    • 1 shooter per team, alternating shooters.

How Long Is A Hockey Game?

NHL hockey games are 2 hours and 29 minutes long, on average, from start to finish. Additionally, NHL games start roughly 8 minutes after their scheduled times.

So, if a game starts at 7, it will actually start at 7:08 PM and be over at around 9:37 PM.

How Long Is A Hockey Game - NHL Game Delays

A majority of the delay before NHL games can be attributed to the singing of the national anthem which is customary for every game. Additionally, many games will honor a special guest in attendance before the game.

60 Minutes of Regulation

Without all of the intermissions, stoppages, and commercial breaks, a hockey game consists of three, 20 minute periods totaling 60 minutes. In other words, 60 minutes is the total amount of time that will be put on the scoreboard.

There is, however, another 5 minutes of potential overtime if the teams tie in regulation.

The intermissions, stoppages, commercial breaks, and overtimes are what bring the average length of NHL games from 60 minutes to 2 hours and 29 minutes.

Playoff Games Are Longer

On average, playoff games are 15 minutes longer than regular season games. The average length of playoff games is 2 hours and 44 minutes.

Playoff games tend to be longer because there is no limit on the number of overtimes that can be played.

How Long Is A Hockey Game - NHL Game Lengths - Playoffs

If two teams tie in a regular season game, there is a maximum of one overtime that can be played. If the teams tie in that overtime, the game continues onto a shootout where it is decided relatively quickly. If two teams tie in a playoff game, however, the game will simply continue onto the second overtime, then the third, and so on – for as many overtimes as necessary.

The longest playoff game played in 2023, was between the Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes. The game started at 8:10 PM and ended at 1:54 AM, a total of 5 hours and 44 minutes. The players were in their gear for nearly 7 hours.

The game was 12 seconds away from going to 5th overtime until Matthew Tkachuk scored the game-winning goal. It stands as the 6th longest game in NHL history.

How Many Times Does A Zamboni Clean The Ice During A Game?


During a typical game, the ice is cleaned by a Zamboni three times.

Firstly, after the warm-up session, then during both intermissions, that is, between the first period and second period, and the second and third period.

The Zamboni will not clean the ice before overtime, unless it’s a playoff game. This is because regular season overtimes are only 5 minutes, and ice cuts usually take 5 to 10 minutes to complete. Thus, it’s usually not worth it to clean the ice.

However, if a game extends to a shootout, the Zamboni will clean the middle lane of the ice to maintain a smooth surface for players to stickhandle.


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