High drama appears to be the flavor of the day so far in this very young 2010-11 season.
After Sunday's games, there have been 68 games played this season. Amazingly, 25 of those games have been tied with 10 minutes left in regulation. Last season, through the same number of games, it was just 15 tied contests with 10 minutes remaining.
To make things even more exciting, NHL teams have seemed intent on breaking those late-game ties before overtime or a shootout becomes necessary.
Almost a quarter of the 25 games (six) have seen a go-ahead goal in the final five minutes of regulation, compared to just four at the same point last season. In half of those six games, the go-ahead goal has come in the final 180 seconds of regulation, a feat that happened just one time in the season's first 68 games last season.
Montreal already has done the trick twice this season. On Nov. 9, Scott Gomez
scored with 1:48 left to break a tie and give the Canadiens a 3-2 win against Pittsburgh. Ironically, Michael Cammalleri
had scored 24 seconds before Gomez to tie that game. Saturday, Tomas Plekanec
scored with 3:59 remaining to give Montreal a 4-3 win against rival Ottawa.
of the New York Islanders
, Washington's Nicklas Backstrom
, Philadelphia's Jeff Carter
and Nashville's Joel Ward
have the other go-ahead goals in the final five minutes of regulation this season.
Plus, the 2010-11 season has seen significantly more lead changes in the first 68 games. Last season, over the same time period, only two games had two lead changes. This season, there have been seven games with at least two lead changes. Seven games this season have seen a third-period lead change, the highest through 68 games since nine games saw a final-period lead change in 2005-06.
Overtime has not been immune to heroics, either.
In each of the past two seasons, 17 of the 68 games (25 percent) have gone into OT. Last season, just five of the 17 games were decided before the shootout. This season, 11 contests have been decided in the 4-on-4 overtime session. Consequently, the average length of overtime has fallen almost a minute, from 4:25 to 3:32.