The movement to reduce the number of games decided by a shootout took a major step forward Tuesday, as NHL general managers voted to institute a five-minute, 3-on-3 overtime period. The plan will need the approval of the NHL’s Board of Governors, who will meet Wednesday in Las Vegas in advance of the NHL’s annual awards ceremony but that approval is considered a formality.

During the March general managers’ meetings, it was decided to go to the 3-on-3 overtime, but there were two distinct scenarios to choose from. The American Hockey League used a seven minute overtime this year and was the other choice on the table. It consists of 4-on-4 until the first whistle after the three-minute mark and then 3-on-3. But the resistance in the NHL is due to the players’ union’s reluctance to endorse additional time to games, suggesting the game’s top players would be adversely impacted as they are the ones who generally play the most in the overtime sessions.

The shootout was introduced after the 2004-05 lockout as a measure of ensuring each game had a winner and to add an exciting wrinkle after the labor stoppage that scuttled an entire season. But over time GMs have become increasingly frustrated at the number of games that were decided by the shootout as they felt important points in the standings were being decided essentially by a skills competition. There were 170 shootouts last season representing 13.8 percent of all games. The year before there were 178 or 14.5 percent of all games.

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