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Unless you want to go back to letting regular-season games end in ties, which would not be the worst idea, the shootout is the best policy.
The purists will likely gripe that a one-on-one lightning round should not settle who gets the extra point after a multifaceted, 65-minute stalemate.
However, if a regular-season game cannot be decided in a normal fashion, then each team has rightly earned a point in the standings and can settle the score through the sport’s fundamental objective. That is, by seeing who can put the most pucks in the opposing net.
Continuous sudden-death overtime is just right for the playoffs, when the points system goes on vacation. From October to early April, however, a surefire swift decision is in order. The NHL does not need to make like baseball and pretend that five-hour games are compelling outside of the postseason.
If one team cannot beat another despite either club’s superior skill, size, physicality or finesse, they might as well call it even. That is, in a way, what the NHL does by awarding a single point to all teams who spill a game into overtime.
If, however, there is to be a winner every night, it should boil down to a clash between shooters and stoppers. Do not spoil anyone’s appetite for multi-overtime marathons come springtime.
To the NHL’s credit, a fair compromise was made two years ago by counting a team’s cumulative regulation and overtime victories as a tiebreaker in the standings. That at least incentivizes everybody to find ways to put their opponents away within the standard 60- or 65-minute time frame.