In the National Hockey League, a game consists of three periods, each lasting 20 minutes. Hide this message. Quora. Sign In. Ice Hockey · Hockey · Sports. Before , they used to play 2 halves of 30 minutes each. But at the end of each half, the ice was so rutted and covered with snow that it slowed. Up until the – season regular season NHL games were settled with a single five-minute sudden death period First played : 19th century Canada.