What is a Penalty Shot in Hockey?

what is a penalty shot in hockey

A penalty shot in ice hockey is a free shot on the net given to a player after another player interrupts or interferes with their scoring chance. Usually, penalty shots come after a breakaway scoring chance and are given instead of power-play opportunities. Here is the complete guide about when penalty shots occur during a game, its history, and more!


Who Gives out a Penalty Shot During a Hockey Game?

who gives out a penalty shot during a hockey game

In the National Hockey League, referees typically give penalty shots to players who had clear scoring chances interfered with by an opposing player. These clear scoring chances usually refer to a breakaway scoring opportunity or a clear odd-man rush. Several illegal infractions can cause a penalty shot.


Examples of Penalty Shot Scenarios

examples of penalty shot scenarios

If a player trips another player on the breakaway, a penalty shot will likely be awarded to the shooter. The player on the offending team can also hook or slash the other player. Usually, players from the offending team are racing behind the player on the breakaway, so physical penalties like holding or interference don’t result in penalty shots.


Referees give most penalty shots during situations that could otherwise be handled by giving the offending player a minor penalty. That’s because most interference that stops breakaway chances are illegal infractions like putting the stick in someone’s skate (tripping), high sticking, or hooking.


What about a Delayed Penalty?

what about a delayed penalty in hockey

Some teams may prefer a two-minute power play opportunity because if the player with possession of the puck can recover from the interference, they may get a delayed penalty. Delayed penalties allow for extra time with the man advantage, which can be more valuable for a team in the long run.


During a delayed penalty in hockey, you will see the offensive team pull their goalie and add an extra player on the ice to try and score. The extra player can stay on the ice until an opposing team player can touch the puck. Typically speaking, you will see the other team touch the puck relatively quickly to stop this uneven matchup on the ice.


Penalty Shot Statistics

Penalty shot attempts to score can be pretty successful. According to sports.stackexchange.com, penalty shots yield a higher completion percentage compared to a power-play chance. For example, penalty shots had a 28% chance of scoring while a power play was a 19% in 2006.


Penalty Shot Strategies

penalty shot strategies

A defending player often interferes with a breakaway to force an attacking skater to take a penalty shot. The reason to cause the interference is that a breakaway via a two v one will be much harder to stop than a one v one attempt.


Offensive players attempting to take a penalty shot will often try to deke or move the puck in a way that confuses or throws off a goalie’s rhythm. When facing off against a single player, a goaltender will often come out far from the goal crease to try and cut down the angle of attack. The goalkeeper will then skate backward at a pace similar to the advancing player’s to stay square and follow the play.


If the attacking player has good puck-handling skills, they can deke and force the goalie to over-commit to one side of the net, opening up several areas like the near goal post or crossbar for scoring chances.


What Happens After a Penalty Shot in the NHL?

what happens after a penalty shot in the nhl

After a penalty shot, the clock stops, and the game resumes with a brand-new faceoff. The location of the faceoff on the rink is different depending on the outcome of the penalty shot.


If the skater successfully scored during regulation, the game will continue after a regular goal. The referees will collect the puck, and the next faceoff will happen at center ice.


However, if the attacking player does not successfully score, the next faceoff spot will be the faceoff dot closest to where the interference occurred. In most cases, this will be one of the faceoff dots in the offensive zone, to the right or left of the goalie. However, the faceoff can be at the faceoff dots closest to the defending team’s blue line in some cases.


Does a Penalty Shot Goal Help a Players Plus-Minus?

If a team scores a goal due to the other team having one less player, that goal does not help the plus-minus stat. Check out the complete guide to the plus-minus guide to learn more!


History of the Penalty Shot

Penalty shots have been part of the game in professional hockey since the founding of the NHL. However, that doesn’t mean they’ve always been in the top league in hockey.


The Pacific Hockey League first adopted them in the 1921-22 season. It took the NHL 13 years to add penalty shots to their rulebook. The league adopted penalty shots officially during the 1934-35 season and started seeing them in practice almost immediately.


The first penalty shot was awarded to Montreal Canadiens forward Armand Mondou on November 10, 1934. The first goal scored on a penalty shot came three days later when Ralph “Scotty” Bowman of the St. Louis Eagles scored on Alec Connell, goalie for the Montreal Maroons.


History of the Penalty Shot in the Stanley Cup

The first successful penalty shot to happen in the Stanley Cup Finals occurred in 2006. In that game, Chris Pronger of the Edmonton Oilers got a penalty shot after the Carolina Hurricanes’ defenseman, Niclas Wallin, made a stoppage of play by illegally covering the puck. Pronger successfully scored on Hurricanes’ goalie Cam Ward during his shot.


While penalty shots are common during the regular season, they’re rarely occur during the playoffs because referees don’t want to give any player an unfair advantage that could sway the course of a game.


Unique Penalty Shot Situations

One unique situation involving a penalty shot came in 2009 when Vladimir Nikiforov of the Utah Grizzlies got two penalty shots on one play in an ECHL game.


During a breakaway, Nikiforov was hooked and interfered with from behind, making him fall and lose control of the puck. At the same time, the goaltender for the opposing team, Scott Reid of the Alaska Aces, knocked the net off of its moorings on the goal line. The referee awarded Nikiforov two penalty shots based on hockey rules, which were both stopped by Reid.


A similar scenario happened during the 2019 World Juniors tournament. During a game between Switzerland and Russia, the Russian defense tripped twice Marco Lehmann on the same breakaway. Lehmann got two penalty shots, which he and his teammate Phillipp Kurashev served.


Conclusion: Penalty Shots in Hockey

While penalty shots aren’t always successful, they’re an exciting change to a hockey game that can shift momentum and increase the excitement during a period. Seeing a player go down the ice and face off with a goalie one-on-one is an event that almost always gets fans out of their seats and paying attention. Now that you know all about penalty shots, you can predict how they’ll change your team’s luck during a game and what to expect!


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