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A team must skate a minimum of three attackers on the ice at all times. If an accumulation of penalties would otherwise force a team to fall below this minimum, the situation becomes known as "stacked penalties". This means that the new penalty will start when one of the already-penalized players causing the disadvantage is allowed back onto the ice, whether the time expires or the opposing team scores on the power play. This also means that the player whose penalty expires first out of the three must wait for a stoppage in play, or the expiration of the second penalty, before leaving the penalty box so that it is appropriately 5 on 3, 5 on 4, and 5 on 5 in succession for each respective situation. Penalties that allow for immediate substitution (certain coincidental penalties and misconduct penalties) do not produce a disadvantage and thus do not count for stacked penalties. Stacked penalties still apply in shorthanded overtimes because two penalties still result in a five-on-three situation regardless of the initial lineup due to the rules allowing an extra attacker as needed.

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