Short handed is a term used in ice hockey and refers to having fewer skaters on the ice during play, as a result of a penalty. The player removed from play serves the penalty in the penalty box for a set amount of time proportional to the severity of the infraction. If a goaltender commits a minor, another player who was on the ice at the time of the penalty serves, often but not necessarily the team captain.

The penalized team is said to be on the Penalty Kill (PK) while their players are in the penalty box. The opposing team is usually referred to as having an "advantage" until the penalized player returns to play. This situation is often called a power play for the opposing team, due to the increased likelihood of scoring during this time. Not only does the power play team have the man advantage, the penalized team is frequently trapped in their zone and often cannot make line changes, resulting in their players being on the ice for longer-than-normal shifts. As a result, the penalized team's players are often exhausted when the penalty expired and they are often scored on shortly afterwards.

The team on the power play often only has one defenceman at the rear rather than the typical two, in favor of adding another attacker. Rarely, teams have often pulled their goalie for the sixth on-ice player (such as in Game 2 of the 1993 Stanley Cup Finals). Players assigned to power play or penalty killing duties are often know as "special teams".

During a power play, the shorthanded team may launch the puck to the opposite end of the rink, and play will continue: icing is not called.

If the team with the advantage scores a goal while the other team is short handed, the penalty is over, unless it was a major penalty. If the team on the power play scores in a penalty shot, the penalized player must remain in the penalty box.

5-on-3[edit | edit source]

A team can have two players in the penalty box, but can only be limited to three players on the ice at any given time. If the other team is at full strength and the penalized team has two players in the penalty box, plus a goalie in net, the situation is called a 5-on-3. This situation gives the team on the power play an even greater chance of scoring. If the advantaged team on the 5-on-3 scores, the player who took the earlier of the two penalties may return to the ice, and play resumes as a power play with only one player in the penalty box.

A call for too many men on the ice in a 5-on-3 situation in the last two minutes of regulation or in overtime now results in a penalty shot. This current rule resulted from Coach Roger Neilson's exploitation of rule loopholes during an OHL game when his team was up one goal, but was down two men in a five on three situation for the last minute of the game. Realizing that more penalties could not be served under the existing rules, Neilson put too many men on the ice every ten seconds. The referees stopped the play and a faceoff was held relieving pressure on the defence.

Short handed goals[edit | edit source]

A short handed goal is a goal scored in ice hockey when a team's on-ice players are outnumbered by the opposing team's. Normally, a team would be outnumbered because of a penalty incurred. However, the opposing team on the power play often only has one defenceman at the rear rather than the typical two, in favor of adding another attacker. This strategy can often be exploited by the shorthanded team, if they do manage to get the puck out into the neutral zone leaving most of the opposing players behind, and the penalty killers may enjoy odd man rushes and breakaways against the single defenceman of the advantaged team.

Short handed goals are somewhat infrequent when a team is down one player. Very rarely is a short handed goal scored by a team that is down two players. Current Philadelphia Flyers captain Mike Richards is the only player in the history of the NHL to score three career 3-on-5 goals, having attained the last one during the 2008-09 NHL Season.

When one team pulls its goalie near the end of a game to play with an extra attacker, any goal scored on the empty net is not considered to be short handed (because there are equal numbers of players on ice for the teams).

See also[edit | edit source]

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