In ice hockey, a penalty shot is a type of penalty awarded when a team loses a clear scoring opportunity because of a foul committed by an opposing player. One player is given an attempt to score a goal without opposition from any defending players except the goaltender. Unlike penalty kicks in football (soccer) and penalty strokes in field hockey, the player is allowed to skate with the puck before shooting.
The penalty shot was added to the rule books of the National Hockey League for the 1934-35 season, allowing them to be awarded when a player was fouled while in "a good scoring position." The first penalty shot was awarded to the Montreal Canadiens' Armand Mondou on November 10, 1934; he was stopped by the Toronto Maple Leafs' George Hainsworth. On November 13, Ralph "Scotty" Bowman of the St. Louis Eagles scored the first penalty shot goal in NHL history.
Penalty shots are most commonly awarded when a player is fouled from behind on a breakaway and is not able to take a shot. Other fouls that result in penalty shots include throwing the stick in the defending zone or at a player on a breakaway, purposely dislodging the goal post to prevent a scoring opportunity, a defending player other than the goaltender falling on or picking up the puck while it is in the goal crease, and deliberate illegal substitution in the last two minutes of regulation time or in overtime. In the Southern Professional Hockey League, since its inception in 2004, a penalty shot is automatically awarded for a minor penalty in the final two minutes of overtime.
To start a penalty shot, the puck is placed on the centre faceoff spot, and the goaltender stands on the goal line. When the referee blows the whistle, the attacking player may take control of the puck and attempt to score. Once the attacker touches the puck, the goaltender may step away from the line for better positioning. The shooter is allowed one shot – a goal cannot be scored on a rebound – and once the puck crosses the goal line, the penalty shot is considered complete. Play stops immediately following a penalty shot. The time needed for the shot is not included in the playing time of the game. If the shot is unsuccessful, play is restarted with a faceoff in the zone where the penalty shot was tried. If the shot is successful, the faceoff is at center ice as with any other goal.
Although most of the rule books do not specify a time limit, they do require the shooter to move the puck continuously toward a scoring attempt, once it is touched. The skater may also skate for a short time prior to touching the puck, to build up his momentum. At any point, the referee would have to judge whether the attacker is stalling, and thus nullify the play.
Frequently, players will attempt to deke around the goaltender in an effort to score. Other players may simply shoot quickly in front of the goaltender, relying on the quick release of the shot to score a goal.
If a penalty shot is awarded and the penalized team had pulled their goaltender in favour of an extra attacker, an automatic goal is awarded in lieu of the penalty shot.
A penalty shot is considered by some commentators to be the most exciting moment in hockey. However, due to the circumstances necessary to trigger a penalty shot call, penalty shots are rare in the NHL, especially in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Far fewer goals are scored on penalty shots compared to penalty kicks.
In the long history of Stanley Cup play, only 46 penalty shots have been called, and only ten in the Finals since the first one in 1937. The first eight resulted in no score. The first successful penalty shot in Stanley Cup Finals history occurred on June 5 2006, when Chris Pronger of the Edmonton Oilers beat Cam Ward of the Carolina Hurricanes, following an illegal covering of the puck by a Carolina player. The most recent failed attempt occurred in the 2007 finals, when Antoine Vermette of the Ottawa Senators had his shot turned aside by Jean-Sébastien Giguère of the champion Anaheim Ducks
Strategy is considered to be very important during penalty shots and overtime shootouts for both the shooter and the goalie. Both shooters and goalies commonly consult their teammates and coaches for advice on the opposing player's style of play. Shooters often consider the goalie's strengths and weaknesses (such as a fast glove or stick save), preferred goaltending style (such as butterfly or stand-up) and method of challenging the shooter. Goaltenders often consider the shooter's shot preference, expected angle of attack, a patented move a shooter commonly uses and even handedness of the shooter.
Most shooters attempt to out-deke the goalie in order to create a better scoring chance. Minnesota Wild forward Mikko Koivu and Tampa Bay Lightning forward Martin St. Louis are examples of players who commonly use this strategy. However, it is not uncommon for a shooter to simply shoot for an opening without deking. This is commonly referred to as sniping. This is most commonly performed when a goalie challenges a shooter by giving them an open hole (by keeping a glove, pad or stick out of position or being out of sound goaltending position all-together to tempt the shooter to aim for the given opening).
Very rarely a shooter may take a slapshot or wrist shot from the point or top of the slot. This is almost exclusively performed when a shooter either has a high level of confidence in their shot or they attempt to catch the goalie by surprise. Minnesota Wild forward Brian Rolston, Buffalo Sabres forward Thomas Vanek and Anaheim Mighty Ducks defenseman Chris Pronger have all used this strategy with success. In fact, Pronger succeeded in using this strategy in the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals against Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward as a member of the Edmonton Oilers.
Players sometimes use the rarity of point-blank shots as a deking method. Sheldon Souray, owner of one of the hardest slapshots in the league, has succeeded by faking a slapshot and simply flipping the puck in. Sometimes a player will even fake a wrist shot by lifting their opposite leg (left leg for a right-handed shooter) or just by flicking their stick directly above the puck. Buffalo Sabres forward Thomas Vanek also uses this technique.