Three-Way Betting in the National Hockey League: A Primer for Bettors

Hockey Can't End in a Tie, But That Doesn't Mean You Can't Bet It

By Alex B. Smith (@axsmithsports)

Three-Way Betting in the National Hockey League

“Who did you bet in this game?”

“I bet the Draw”

“The what?

“I bet on the draw, that the game would go into overtime.”

This is a conversation I’ve had in bars a few times a year during hockey season for several years now. With the increase of popularity in sports betting across North America, many people are fully aware that you can bet on nearly any sport being played in the world, but they may not be familiar with just how many ways you can bet certain sports, especially with a sport like Hockey, where the betting interest pales in comparison with sports like Football and Basketball.

So let’s take a look into Three-Way Lines or Regulation Lines when betting on games in the National Hockey League. How it works, why is it an option you should look into betting, and some of the NHL teams to look at in these spots as we head into the stretch run of the NHL Regular Season and into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

HOW DO THREE-WAY LINES WORK?

Most people are familiar with seeing traditional lines between two teams listed like this:

Chicago Blackhawks +130 Over 6 -105 +1.5 -220
Minnesota Wild -150 Under 6 -115 -1.5 +180

This is called a Two-Way Line or Two-Way Market. You can bet on either Side A as the Underdog or Side B as the Favorite in this option. But with sports like Soccer, which still have matches that end in a tie or draw, Hockey falls under the category of a sport that can offer a Three-Way Line.

Now, after the 2004-2005 National Hockey League lockout, rules were changed to eliminate ties after overtime, with games extending into a three-round shootout. However, because games still end in a Tie after regulation, the “Draw” option is still a viable bet with three-way lines, which are also called Regulation Lines. The two terms are basically interchangable.

This is how you will traditionally see Three-Way Lines shown on a website or betting board:

Chicago Blackhawks +190
DRAW +320
Minnesota Wild +100

So there are a couple of noticiable differences with these odds, starting of course with the added option of betting on the Draw, which simply means you need the game to be tied after the end of the third period, when all 60 minutes of regulation play are finished, and the game is heading into overtime. Once the contest goes into overtime, you have won your bet. It doesn’t matter if the game ends in the overtime or later in the shootout, it still counts as a winning wager.

The second noticable change with this set of lines are the prices for each side. You see an increase of value typically between 40 cents to 60 cents, in this example, it’s a 60 cent increase on the Blackhawks, who went from +130 underdogs on the two-way line to +190. And for the Wild, it’s a 50 cent bump from -150 down to even money at +100. This is a very valuable boost to utilize, especially when betting on larger favorites.

Many sharp bettors will look to take favorites in the range of -130 to -180 on the two-way line and knock them down to the +120 to -130 range. The risk is you will need that side to win the game and avoid overtime. Conversely, if you feel very confident about an underdog winning the contest inside of 60 minutes, you can boost your odds 40-60 cents higher with the three-way option.

WHO PICKS A GAME TO GO TO OVERTIME?

Lots of bettors like to find certain angles when betting a sport over the years, and different props and situations become trendy in the betting world, like the “First Period Over” craze in the NHL back around 2018. One angle that bettors aim for on the ice is picking games to cash the Regulation Draw, which we established earlier, as any game that goes into overtime or a shootout.

With the second half of the National Hockey League regular season in full swing and the Stanley Cup Playoffs just a couple months away, you will see many teams that are battling for positioning in the Divisional and Wild Card standings. When you have two teams that are desperate to gain points, and they face-off against each other in a 3-3 game with around five or six minutes left in the third period, neither club is going to risk making a critial mistake that allows a goal and they lose the game, earning nothing in the standings.

You will tend to see the pattern of clubs taking less chances on the offensive rush, more focused on puck possession and dumping the puck when nothing is open, and that leads to slower play that runs down the clock to zero and both teams now have at least one point in the standings.

It’s not implied that every single match-up between clubs fighing for playoff positioning will be cautious in a tied game late, but this theory is very profitable when you factor in that most “Draw” Prices are around +300 to as high as +420, and when you look at bigger favorites in a contest, the draw could sometimes exceed the +500 range.

Another solid angle when looking for a team that could cash in on the Regulation Draw angle late in the year is with a team that isn’t built to play fast offensively, and one that doesn’t have a chance to contend for the postseason. Also, one that has some younger players that are hungry to prove themselves to their coaches and front office that they belong on an NHL roster.

When these teams take on top-tier competition, and they might be caught in a scheduling spot like the second night of a back-to-back spot, or coming off a loss against a tough divisional opponent or a rival. We tend to see the better team (which is usually a very large favorite) sometimes play a bit uninspired against this opponent that is still focused on playing well to wrap up the season.

Lots of bettors will look at the Underdog on the two-way line with this angle, which is fine.  You should also consider the look of betting the Draw as well, with a larger favorite. The price will certainly be in a good range and if the underdog comes out hot early in the contest only to lose steam and have the favorites even up the contest, you now have a bit of insurance with the draw wager.

BEST TEAMS TO WAGER ON WITH THE REGULATION DRAW

The historical average for NHL games to go to Overtime in a given season falls around 23.4%, We take a look at a few teams this season that have been solid wagers with the Regulation Draw, and some betting theory as to why they are sides to circle within this angle.

Hurricanes logo Carolina Hurricanes

Record as of 2/24/23 # of Regulation Draws # of Regulation Draws in 2021-22 Season
38-10-8 (84 Points) 18 (32.7% 10-8 record in OT/SO games) 15 (Ranked 27th)

The Carolina Hurricanes are a team that is built to win now and make a deep run into the postseason. They have multiple lines that can score and solid goaltending when healthy, but their biggest strength is puck possession and playing solid in the neutral zone with man-to-man defensive schemes. This, along with being in a hyper-competitive Metropolitan Division, makes the Canes a prime pick to bet on the Regulation Draw.

Kings logo Los Angeles Kings

Record as of 2/24/23 # of Regulation Draws # of Regulation Draws in 2021-22 Season
32-19-8 (72 Points) 17 (29.3%, 9-8 record in OT/SO games) 20 (tied 9th)

Los Angeles is another team that is big on puck possession and they have arguably one of the strongest lineups up in all of the league. It’s rare to have four centers that all are strong at winning faceoffs with Anze Kopitar, Phillip Danault, Alex Iafallo, and Blake Lizotte. The Pacific Division is always tight with many games needing overtime or shootouts to decide the winner. The Kings have been a good team for years to back with the Draw.

Flames logo Calgary Flames

Record as of 2/24/23 # of Regulation Draws # of Regulation Draws in 2021-22 Season
27-20-12 (66 Points) 17 (29.3%, 5-11 in OT/SO Games) 17 (tied 16th)

Head Coach Darryl Sutter’s throwback style of ‘defense first’ and creating havoc by using pace and tempo to press clubs when backchecking into their zone is a first on his list; they also rely heavily on 5-on-5 scoring and their penalty killing.

When those two systems are flowing well, the Calgary Flames tend to win more of their games, but they still end up in many close battles, with few of them breaking their way this season, as indicated by the (5-11) record thus far. Calgary is clinging on to one of the two final Wild Card spots in the Western Conference, and will need to continue to earn points anyway they can if they wish to return to the postseason.

Ducks logo Anaheim Ducks

Record as of 2/24/23 # of Regulation Draws # of Regulation Draws in 2021-22 Season
18-34-7 (43 points) 17 (28.8%, 10-7 in OT/SO Games) 23 (tied 2nd)

The Anaheim Ducks are in a long rebuilding phase, which they hope will end up landing them prized prospect Connor Bedard should they win the Lottery and the Number One pick overall in this Summer’s NHL Draft. However, the bump in their road towards tanking has been their success in games past the 60 minute mark.

The Ducks have won ten of their 17 games to go past regulation. Those ten points could make the difference between adding a generational talent and possibly cutting the rebuild time down a year or two. Nonetheless, this young core of players for Anaheim have battled tough, especially versus division opponents. In their 17 overtime games this season, six of them have come against Pacific Division foes, including three against the San Jose Sharks.

DO NOT, I REPEAT DO NOT BET THE YES/NO PROP ON OVERTIMES!

This needs to be shouted from the rooftops. Do not bet on these Yes/No props on whether or not a game will go into overtime. Many books all over the world will have a menu of game props for any NHL contest, and in this list you will usually see a Yes/No on Overtime prop written like this.

Will There Be Overtime in Chicago/Minnesota?
YES +275
NO -330

If you notice this price compared to the Regulation Draw price previously show for this game, you will see it’s 45 cents worse with the Yes/No Prop. This is done on purpose to confuse people that aren’t clear with the wording when they see “Draw” on the three-way line. If you remember anything from this article, it’s that Regulation Draw and Overtime are the same thing, but never bet Yes/No on Overtime, always look for the Draw prop at a better price.

This Concludes the article on NHL Betting Three-Way Lines in the National Hockey League. Check out all the updated National Hockey League standings, lineups, injuries, future odds, team stats, recent news, picks, parlays and betting tips, right here at Point Spreads.



Alex B. Smith has been a Sports Handicapper since 2011. He has emerged as one of the top up-and-coming Handicappers in the business. Cut from the old school. Alex B. specializes in College & Pro Football, as well as College Hoops and the NHL. Smith is a firm believer in looking at the intangibles. Key game situations. momentum, scheduling and weather as well as breaking down the important numbers and following strict bankroll management. A big fan of obscure college teams, His plays suit the long-term investors who play to win consistent money, as well as the causal bettors and action players. Alex is in this business to win and help every one of his clients win as well.


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