We've now had six seasons in which games that remain tied after overtime have been decided by a shootout -- a breakaway competition of three (or more, as needed) rounds in which shooters go 1-on-1 with goaltenders.
Just more than one of every eight games has ended in a shootout since it was adopted in 2005. The stakes can be high -- Philadelphia's run to the 2010 Stanley Cup Final never would have happened if the Flyers hadn't beaten the New York Rangers in a shootout on the final day of the season. The New York Islanders made the postseason in 2006-07 by beating New Jersey in a shootout in their season finale.
Last season, the Rangers' 9-3 record in shootouts helped them finish two points ahead of Carolina, which went 5-5, while in the West, the Kings and Stars played in 12 shootouts, but L.A. went 10-2 while Dallas went 5-7 -- more than accounting for the three-point difference between the seventh-place Kings and the ninth-place Stars.
The shootout's six seasons have shown that some players and some teams are better at it than others. Most interesting is the fact that some of hockey's big names have struggled in the shootout, while a number of lesser lights have shone brightly.
Here's a look at some of the best of the shootout at age 6:
Perfection -- Twelve active players have scored on all of their shootout attempts -- but 10 of those have had only one try. Two players are a perfect 2-for-2 -- but for Winnipeg's Tim Stapleton and Chicago's Viktor Stalberg, the problem has been getting onto the ice. Stapleton has bounced between the NHL and the minors, while Stalberg played his first full NHL season with Chicago in 2010-11, averaging just 10:41 of ice time in 77 games.
The 10 players who are 1-for-1 don't include many household names -- they're guys who got their chance in a long shootout after teams exhausted their big guns. However, most of them did come through in the clutch -- eight of them scored the game-deciding goal. Both goals by Stapleton and Stalberg were game-winners.
Minnesota's Chuck Kobasew and Toronto's Clarke MacArthur are the complete opposite -- they've never scored in a shootout, and each has had nine tries. That's the most attempts by a shooter without beating a goaltender, one more than Colorado's Paul Stastny. Among players with 10 or more attempts, the lowest percentage belongs to Taylor Pyatt of the Phoenix Coyotes, who's 1-for-13 (7.7 percent).
The best career shooter who's taken 10 or more shots is former Minnesota defenseman Petteri Nummelin, who went 8-for-10 (.800) in 2005-06 and 2006-07. No active shooter with 10 or more shots has scored on more than 60 percent of them.
Super stoppers -- Several goaltenders have had excellent seasons in shootouts, but it's hard to envision anyone topping the performance Mathieu Garon turned in for Edmonton in 2007-08.
Garon was 16-18 in games decided in regulation and lost his only overtime decision. However, he was flawless -- and nearly unbeatable -- in shootouts. Garon was a perfect 10-0 for the Oilers, who set an NHL record with 15 shootout wins. Garon was 5-0 at Rexall Place and 5-0 on the road while allowing a total of two goals on 32 attempts, a .932 save percentage. He stopped all 14 attempts he faced in the five road wins.
Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick matched Garon's perfect 10-0 record last season, helping L.A. make the playoffs in the process. However, he allowed eight goals on 44 tries for a save percentage of "only" .818.
Garon, now with Tampa Bay, and Quick are tied for the single-season record in shootout wins with New Jersey's Martin Brodeur and Buffalo's Ryan Miller, each of whom had 10 in 2006-07.
Stammer-ing -- Steven Stamkos is one of the NHL's top guns -- his 96 goals the past two seasons are more than anyone else in the League. But put Stamkos into a shootout and it's a whole different story.
Stamkos had the worst season of any shooter in 2010-11 when he went 0-for-7, dropping him to 4-for-21 (19.0 percent) for his career. Not far behind Stamkos in terms of futility was teammate Vincent Lecavalier, who went 0-for-5. Despite getting nothing from two of their biggest scorers, the Lightning managed to split 12 shootouts.
Stamkos and Lecavalier are in good company when it comes to shootout struggles: Among the players who have taken a season-long 0-fer with five or more attempts are Joe Sakic (2005-06, 0-for-7), Marian Gaborik (2005-06, 0-for-6), Paul Kariya (2007-08, 0-for-6), and Jarome Iginla (2008-09, 0-for-5).
But the worst season ever belongs to James Neal, now with the Pittsburgh Penguins, who went 0-for-10 in 2009-10 with the Dallas Stars -- after he scored on five of seven tries as a rookie in 2008-09. Neal bounced back last season by scoring on three of his six attempts.
The most incredible season-to-season swing belongs to Wojtek Wolski, who went 10-for-12 in 2008-09 with Colorado, only to fall to 1-for-15 while splitting the following season between the Avs and Phoenix. He's one of only three players to score 10 shootout goals in a season, along with Jussi Jokinen of Dallas in 2005-06 and Alex Tanguay of Calgary last season -- and the only player to take more than 12 attempts in a season while scoring just one goal.
The longest drought ever belongs to New York Islanders forward Trent Hunter, who missed 14 in a row before scoring Nov. 11, 2009. The most successful streak shooter is Jokinen, now with Carolina, who scored on his first nine attempts in 2005-06.
All hail the King -- With a little help from an injury that kept Martin Brodeur out of the net for a big chunk of 2010-11, Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist will enter 2011-12 with the most career shootout wins of any goaltender. Lundqvist went 7-3 last season to pass Brodeur with 37 victories. Brodeur, who was limited to 56 games due to injuries, split the two shootouts he was involved in and has 35 wins, four more than Miller, who's third.
Among goaltenders with 30 or more decisions in shootouts, Brodeur's .648 winning percentage is tops, just ahead of Marc-Andre Fleury at .645. Among those with 20 or more victories, Quick tops all goaltenders at .759 (22-7).
On the opposite end, Minnesota's Niklas Backstrom has by far the worst winning percentage of any goaltender who has been involved in 20 or more shootouts. Backstrom has lost 24 of his 36 shootouts, a .333 winning percentage. His .581 save percentage also is the poorest of any goalie with 20 or more shootouts on his resume.
Division of success -- The Atlantic Division has had more success than any other when it comes to the shootout. Four of the five Atlantic teams are among the top eight in winning percentage, led by the New Jersey Devils at a League-high .627. Pittsburgh, the Rangers and the Islanders all are at .569 or better. All four have gotten plenty of practice -- they've each taken part in at least 65 shootouts, led by the Rangers' League-high 77. The one Atlantic Division team that struggles in the shootout, the Philadelphia Flyers, has been involved in just 53 -- and won only 19.
The shootout has been least kind to the Central Division, where only the Nashville Predators are over .500 (35-26, .574).
Home cooking -- All four of the over-.500 Atlantic Division teams have done well at home. They account for half of the eight teams that have 20 or more shootout wins in front of their own fans. By far the poorest team in its own building is Florida, which has played in 35 shootouts at the BankAtlantic Center and won just seven. Calgary, with five wins in 19 tries, has the fewest shootout victories at home. Not coincidentally, the Panthers and Flames are 29th and 30th in shooting percentage -- they are the only teams below 20 percent at home.
Dallas, a power in the early years of the shootout, is tops in road wins with 26 in 40 tries. The Rangers and Penguins are next with 25; Colorado has the best winning percentage at .657 (23-12).
Ottawa has a League-low eight shootout wins and .333 winning percentage on the road (8-16) -- mostly due to a League-low 25.3 shooting percentage.
The Closer -- Sidney Crosby is tops all-time with 13 game-deciding goals, but the most remarkable performance in the shootout's six years belongs to Phoenix defenseman Adrian Aucoin in 2009-10.
Then 36, Aucoin never had taken a shootout attempt until the Coyotes' game at Nashville on Feb. 2, 2010, when the teams played 65 scoreless minutes and battled through nine rounds of a shootout. Aucoin, who recently had won a shootout competition after practice, had his number called by coach Dave Tippett and ripped home a wrist shot for the winning goal.
He did it again two nights later in Chicago, using the same approach -- a laser-like wrister into the top corner -- to score the game-winner. Aucoin went on to convert his first five attempts, all of which decided the game, and finished 6-for-9 with six game-deciding goals, still a singpe-season record.
Amazingly, those are the only shootout attempts of Aucoin's career -- Tippett did not use him at all in the Coyotes' 11 shootouts in 2010-11.