Bruins Blog

3-on-3 Overtime a Sign of Things to Come?

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By Tim Rosenthal, Bruins Daily

For the last several seasons, fans for all 30 NHL teams have voiced their displeasure on the shootout. That was no different during the Bruins’ 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, as the game was decided by the skills competition Thursday night at the TD Garden.

Aside from the back and forth action during the last few minutes of regulation, there was one thing fans were excited about — 3-on-3 overtime.

Interestingly enough, the 3-on-3 overtime between the Bruins and Lightning was pretty timely considering that it will be a popular topic of discussion during the three-day General Managers meetings in Boca Raton, Florida from March 16-18.

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“Well, it’s a preview of what they’re going to be talking about, right?” Bruins coach Claude Julien stated during his postgame press conference. “So, no doubt there’s a lot more room for the skilled players and we had some great opportunities on it.”

“I was a little nervous out there actually,” said Brad Marchand, who clinched the game with his shootout winner in the third round. “There was so much room you almost don’t know what to do with it. It was fun for sure and I think maybe we’ll see that next year or whatnot. It was a good experience.”

In a game where the Bruins weren’t playing their best hockey — particularly in the second period — they found a way to win. In the process, they provided an entertaining finish in a back and forth contest against a more skilled Lightning squad.

So, going into a 3-on-3 situation, one would think the Bolts would’ve outskated the Bruins with all the open ice to work with. As it stood out, both teams had their chances, including two great opportunities from David Pastrnak who had two attempts to end it on Ben Bishop thanks to his nifty stick handling.

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Bishop (28 saves) and Tuukka Rask (35 saves) made key stops in the 3-on-3, but it’s safe to say that they’d prefer having the game decided that way over the shootout.

“Well my opinion doesn’t matter, but I heard they were talking about it, trying it in the minors,” Rask said about the league potentially going to a 3-on-3 overtime format for five minutes. “So maybe it happens in the future.”

Starting this year, the American Hockey League implemented a new seven-minute overtime. The first three minutes is the traditional 4-on-4 hockey. If things are still tied after the first whistle after three minutes has passed, then the 3-on-3 situation follows for the remainder of overtime. After that — if the game is still deadlocked — comes the shootout.

Bringing 3-on-3 hockey would be a breath of fresh air to have the teams decide things in overtime over an individual competition like the shootout. In the meantime, this will be a hot topic in the coming days, weeks and months.

“I’d rather do the 3-on-3 than have a shootout,” Marchand said. “I don’t know if it’s in place of that or not but I think it would allow for more goals and more opportunities.”

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What happens at the GM meetings remains to be seen. The most important thing for the Black and Gold on this night was getting two points against their Atlantic Division foes and inching closer to another Stanley Cup Playoff appearance.

“We won,” Chris Kelly laughed about lobbying for the 3-on-3 overtime, “so yeah, I guess.”

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