The NHL Game Length in Real Time
Fundamentally, a typical NHL game will last for about three hours in real time. This includes the pre-game show as well as the 15-minute break that happens between the halves.
Three Periods of Play
An NHL game is comprised of three 20-minute periods of play that are broken down into 2 halves. During intermission, the teams switch the direction they are playing in, as well.
At the end of each game, if the score is tied, it is customary to enter into a shootout period in an effort to determine a winner. During the shootout, which lasts approximately 10 minutes, each team nominates three players – one at a time – to take a penalty shot while the other team’s goalie attempts to save it.
The game may also experience addended time if a goal is scored late in the third period, which would allow the losing team additional time to score. This addended time period is done in 3-minute segments to avoid any sort of overtime.
The final component that can impact the length of an NHL game is timeouts. Each team is allowed to take one timeout per game that can last up to 90 seconds. Depending on the score and the momentum of the game, teams may choose to use their timeout or not.
In conclusion, a typical NHL game could last anywhere from about 180 minutes to about 210 minutes in real time. This does not account for delays due to weather or power outages, which could potentially extend the duration of the game.
Factoring in the Factors
To summarize, when estimating how long an NHL game will take in real time, you should factor in the following:
- Three 20-minute Periods of Play
- Shootout Periods, if Needed
- Additional Time, if Needed