In ice hockey, a power-play happens after a player on the other team commits a penalty that causes them to serve time in the penalty box. During the time of the penalty, one team is short one player. The opposing team benefits from a power play because they have more players on the ice, giving them a better scoring chance.
How Does a Power Play Work in Hockey?
When a team has the power play, fans often say they have the “man advantage” because they have more skaters on the ice than the other team. This mismatch happens because the player that commits a penalty has to serve time in the penalty box. The offending team is often called “shorthanded” because they have one less player during the penalty.
The time a team spends shorthanded is also called a penalty kill. The offending player will stay in the box until their penalty time is up or the team on the power play scores. At that time, the penalized player will leave the penalty box and skate to their bench.
What is a Shorthanded Goal?
A shorthanded goal occurs when the team with at least one less player on the ice scores against the other team. If the penalized team scores a shorthanded goal, the penalty will continue until time runs out or the advantaged team scores. In NHL History, Wayne Gretzky has the most career shorthand goals at 73, which explains why he was one of the best hockey players ever to play.
Shorthanded teams can ice the puck to try and defend against a power-play goal. Icing the puck can create a scoring opportunity because it enables the penalized team to shoot the puck past the other team’s blue line and behind their defensemen without risk of penalty. This can set up a breakaway or odd-man rush, which can cause a shorthanded goal.
What Happens if the Goalie Commits a Penalty?
If a goalie commits a penalty, they, of course, don’t serve time in the penalty box. Instead, the goalie stays on the ice and minds the net while another player sits in the box. The penalized team can pick which player they send to the box, which helps to strategize who should sit out during the penalty.
What are the Different Types of Power Plays?
Power plays differ in length depending on the type of penalty committed. There are five different types of penalties in the NHL: a minor penalty, a major penalty, a misconduct, matching penalty, and a penalty shot.
A Breakdown of Each Power Play
Game misconducts and penalty shots do not result in power plays. Matching penalties involve one player from both teams going to the penalty box. These often don’t result in power plays unless one is a minor, and the other is a major.
Minor penalties are the most common in hockey and include infractions like boarding, roughing, slashing, delay of game, interference, cross-checking, and more. These penalties incur a two-minute trip to the penalty box.
Egregious minor penalties, such as a high-stick that draws blood, can cause “double minors,” resulting in a 4-minute stay in the box. If the power play team scores during the first two minutes of a double-minor penalty, the penalized player still has to serve a second minor penalty before the power play ends.
Major penalties include fighting, leaving the bench during a fight, spearing, butt-ending, or grabbing the helmet or facemask. These are considered egregious penalties and last for five minutes. There is no way to shorten the length of a penalty during a major penalty. As a result, the offending player stays in the box until time expires, regardless of how many power-play goals the other team scores.
Who Has the Most Power Play Goals in the NHL?
Records.nhl.com has the entire list of most power-play goals, so check out that list. Here is a brief snapshot of the top five players as of October 2021 with the most career power-play goals.
- Dave Andreychuk: 274
- Alex Ovechkin: 269
- Brett Hull: 265
- Teemu Selanne: 255
- Luc Robitaille: 247
What is the Official Scoring of a Power-Play Goal?
The official scoring abbreviation of a power-play goal is PPG.
Who has the Most Short-Handed Goals?
Below is the list of the top 5 players with the most shorthand goals in their career, according to records.nhl.com.
- Wayne Gretzky: 73
- Mark Messier: 63
- Steve Yzerman: 50
- Mario Lemieux: 49
- Buth Goring and Jari Kurri: 39
Wayne Gretzky has the record for most career-shorthanded goals with 73. Many experts believe that Gretzky’s success shorthanded is because he and his line mates benefitted from more space in the rink. With fewer bodies on the ice, they had an easier time skating into the offensive zone than they would have if their team were at full strength.
Conclusion – What is a Power Play in Hockey?
In summary, power plays are a unique part of any hockey game where one team gets a man advantage over another group. This advantage gives a team a short window of time where they can try to score a goal. The penalty ends if the power play team scores or if the time of the penalty expires. Power plays pack a lot of action in a concise amount of time and are one of the most exciting parts of a hockey game.