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Ice Hockey Shootout Rules

What is shootout? How do they work? Get ready to learn about shootouts in ice hockey.


We've already learned about the structure of an ice hockey game. There are three (3) periods in an ice hockey game.

Hockey Regulation

If the score is tied at the end of the 3rd period, additional periods called overtime are used to determine the winner, followed by a shootout.

In this tutorial, we will learn about shootouts and how they work.


A shootout is a method of determining the winning team in an ice hockey game that is only used if the score remains tied after the five (5) minute overtime period ends.

REMEMBER: Shootouts only happen during the NHL regular season. NHL post season games never end in shootouts.

Shootout Rules

Each team gets three (3) attempts to score goals. The team with the most goals at the end of the shootout is the winning team.

If the score is tied after three attempts, a sudden-death format will determine the winner. The next team to score a goal wins if the other team misses.

There are few additional rules that you must remember about shootouts:

  • The goalie cannot be changed out unless he is injured.
  • Timeouts cannot be used
  • No player can shoot again until all eligible players have shot

Shootout Procedure

Shootouts are defined by a strict procedure:

Step 1: The home team has the choice of which team goes first.

Step 2: The coach chooses players on the team to take the shots. Players can be anyone on the team, as long as they are not currently serving a misconduct penalty, game misconduct penalty, or a match penalty.

Step 3: Goalies position themselves in the goal cages closest to their team's benches.

Step 4: Teams alternate shots on opposing team's goalies. Players will start at center ice similar to the rules of penalty shots.

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