Courtesy of Hertz

Drive to the Net: When 3-on-3 OT thrills


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The Oilers' Leon Draisaitl scores in overtime on Saturday. - MATT SUNDAY / DKPS

I think you either love or hate 3-on-3 overtime.

Most people would probably agree that a shootout isn't an ideal way to end a game. When the NHL adopted the 3-on-3 overtime format in 2015, it was designed to cut down the number of games that would end in a shootout. All of the wide open space on the ice makes the game faster and leads to more scoring chances. The 3-on-3 format is still an iffy way to decide a game, given that it's a situation pretty different from the 60 minutes that decided the game up until that point. But at least it looks like hockey and not like a skills competition, as shootouts do.

If I had it my way, I'd stick with the 3-on-3 format, but have it run until someone scores, or at least extend it beyond five minutes. If you want to end shootouts, then end shootouts. The ECHL extended its 3-on-3 overtime to seven minutes this season, and the league is hardly seeing shootouts anymore. Of the 19 games to head to overtime so far in the 2019-20 ECHL season, only four have been decided in a shootout. The minor leagues are often used as a testing ground for rules before they are adopted in the NHL (the AHL had three-on-three overtime a year before the NHL did) so perhaps we could see extended 3-on-3 in the NHL in the future.

But enough about that.

In the Penguins' 2-1 loss to the Oilers on Saturday at PPG Paints Arena, we saw a lot of action in just 2:37 of overtime thanks to all of the open space. This game came close to ending a few times before Leon Draisaitl scored to clinch the extra point.

One of the first rushes from the Penguins during overtime came when Bryan Rust flew down the left side of the ice driving to the net. He was forced outside by Connor McDavid and lost an edge trying to cut in front of the net, and wasn't able to get the shot off. Evgeni Malkin recovered the loose puck and had a shot blocked, and a second shot went just wide:

Malkin's miss set up McDavid and Draisaitl for a 2-on-0, and Rust and Justin Schultz had to hustle back the other way to prevent a scoring chance off the rush. Rust dove to prevent Draisaitl from making a clean pass, and McDavid was limited to a backhander from a less-than-ideal spot:

Schultz regained possession and the Penguins regrouped. He sent the puck to Malkin, who was understandably looking a little slow towards the end of the game, having missed the previous 11. Darnell Nurse used his reach to keep Malkin from getting off a good shot:

Mike Smith's save sent the puck heading back the other way, leading to a Ryan Nugent-Hopkins chance off of a Nurse feed. The rebound hit Nurse's skate and went wide, leading to the puck heading back the other way yet again:

Brian Dumoulin sends the puck to Jake Guentzel, who couldn't handle the pass. Now, at this point, it looks a lot like Smith played the puck outside of the trapezoid. If he did, that should have been a minor penalty for delay of game. That's not a subjective type of call, and it wasn't called. Smith was slow to get back to the crease, but Nurse blocked Dumoulin's chance:

The Oilers had the next two chances, and Matt Murray made the stops:

The Penguins' last rush up ice in overtime was a missed opportunity. Kris Letang and Teddy Blueger had a 2-on-1, and Letang hesitated and didn't take the shot at the first opportunity. When he did take a shot, it went wide:

... leading to the game-winning goal from Draisaitl:

In total, the puck changed possession 12 times in the 2:37 of overtime. That's the kind of back-and-forth action that 3-on-3 creates. More of that, fewer shootouts would be good for the game.

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