What Causes a Penalty Shot?

The Penalty Shot is a fairly rare occurrence in hockey; teams try to avoid them at all cost. The Vegas Golden Knights have only been given 5 penalty shots in the history of the team. In Wednesday night’s game between the Vegas Golden Knights and the Chicago Blackhawks however, there were two; one for each team.

Table by hockey-reference.com

Each penalty shot was awarded for different reasons.

Penalty Shot #1

The first one was awarded to the Blackhawks because Nic Hague hooked Zach Smith from behind while he was on a breakaway.

A penalty shot occurs when a player has a clear scoring chance on a breakaway, but is fouled by the other team.  In order for the ref to award a penalty shot for this reason, the following conditions must be met:

 (i) The infraction must have taken place in the neutral zone or attacking zone, (i.e. over the puck carrier’s own blue line);

(ii)  The infraction must have been committed from behind;

(iii)  The player in possession and control (or, in the judgment of the Referee, clearly would have obtained possession and control of the puck) must have been denied a reasonable chance to score (the fact that he got a shot off does not automatically eliminate this play from the penalty shot consideration criteria. If the foul was from behind and he was denied a “more” reasonable scoring opportunity due to the foul, then the penalty shot should be awarded);

(iv)  The player in possession and control (or, in the judgment of the Referee, clearly would have obtained possession and control of the puck) must have had no opposing player between himself and the goalkeeper.

NHL Rulebook, Rule 24.8

Penalty Shot #2

The second penalty shot was awarded to the Vegas Golden Knights because Blackhawks’ goaltender, Corey Crawford, “threw an object at the puck” while defending in his own zone against Jonathan Marchessault.

Here’s a full list of reasons a penalty shot would be awarded:

(i) Deliberate illegal substitution

(ii) Intentionally dislodging the net from its moorings during the course of a breakaway

(iii) Intentionally dislodging the net from its moorings when the penalty cannot be served in its entirety within regulation time

(iv) Falling on the puck in the goal crease

(v) Picking up the puck with the hand in the goal crease

(vi) Player on a breakaway who is interfered with by an object thrown or shot by a defending team player

(vii) Player on a breakaway who is interfered with by a player who has illegally entered the game

(viii) Player throws or shoots an object at the puck in his defending zone

(ix) Player on a breakaway who is fouled from behind.

NHL Rulebook

The last two on the list were the causes of the penalty shots taken on Wednesday. Neither team ended up scoring their penalty shots, so the penalties that caused them were worth it. This is the gamble that teams sometimes choose to make when an opposing player has a solid scoring chance and there’s nothing else they can do to prevent it.

For more articles explaining the rules of hockey, check out our Hockey 101 section.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *