Can you have a 5 on 2 in Hockey? Let’s Find Out!

Can you have a 5 on 2 in Hockey

During a hockey game, sometimes one team gets the advantage of being on the power play due to a minor penalty to the other side. In a power play, the penalized team plays with short-handed means with the minimum number of players, while the other team gets full advantage of the power play with all its players on the ice arena, which goes on for about two minutes.

So, can you have 5 on 2 in hockey? There will never be 5 on 2 in ice hockey. A team can never have three players. In case there will be another penalty while being three on the ice arena, then the penalty will be served when the least amount of time is left after the termination of the penalty.

To better understand this, let’s examine the rules and the scenarios behind them.

What happens for a team on a penalty with 5 on 3 players on the ice?

The NHL rule about the number of players on ice states that no team shall have players less than three, and this does not include a goalie (with a goalie, there is a total of 5 members).

Thus, a team will never be put in a position where they have only 2 players on ice against the 5 players’ opposition. Because this will give deemed an advantage for the team on the power play as they have to face only two skaters against them, and to do a goal will be like a piece of cake and will be seemed like an automatic goal. As with only two skaters, there is no mean for them to counter the other team’s attack. 

So there must be at least there players on the ice. 

But to know more about what happens to a team when they take another penalty while there are already three players. This depends on two situations, overtime and during regulation. The game scenario becomes different in both situations. Let’s see these two situations.

What happens to 5 on 3 penalty team if there is another penalty during the regulation time?

It is often to see 5 on 3 power play during regulation time. To get to the point of 5 on 3 power play, a team has two penalties within 2 minutes, while the opposing team has zero penalties.

So, what will happen if a team takes another penalty while being on 5 on 3 penalties? Will they be forced to short another player and have two players on the ice?

The answer is NO. When a situation becomes like that, the team on penalty will have to substitute another player in place of penalized player and keep three members on ice. Instead, the penalized player penalty will be served after penalties with the least remaining time of penalty expiry. Even after the penalty expires, the penalty player will not be allowed on the game back until the stoppage of play. So, the team will still be penalized, which is known as delayed penalization.

To understand it more clearly, let’s do a simple case study.


Suppose player A of team Alpha has taken a penalty at 10:00 minutes for 2 minutes. The team Alpha is down to 5 on 4.

Then player B of team Alpha takes another 2 minutes penalty at 10:30, and the team now gets down to 5 on 3.

Lastly, player C of team Alpha takes another 2 minutes penalty at 11:00. What happens? 

Instead of going down to 5 on 2 the team still stays 5 on 3. But player C has to go to the box, and player X will replace him. Even with replacement player C, penalty serving will not start until player A finishes at 12:00 minute mark. 

At 12:00 minute mark, player A’s penalty will be finished, but he will not come out of the box play is going on, and the team will still stay as 5 on 3. Team alpha will still be short-handed as 5 on 3 unless player B’s penalty expires at the 12:30 minute mark, and team Alpha now has 5 on 4.

After Player A’s penalty expires at 12:00, he will still not be allowed back in the game, but only once the stoppage of play happens. This might happen at 12:00 minutes or after, but he can only rejoin the game once the whistle blows.

Can a team have a 3 on 2 power play during overtime?

During overtime, the format goes to 3-on-3 than the standard 5 on 5 in the time of regulation. In NHL, watching overtime is so exciting as there are many chances for scoring, and the next goal wins the game. 

In overtime, penalties are often to see too. So, what will happen if a team gets penalized for overtime? Will the team get short to 3 on 2? The answer is, again, NO. A team will never get penalized to this point for having less than 3 players on the ice.

In overtime, the case of penalty gets reversed. If a penalty happens at 3 on 3 in overtime, then there is a stoppage of play, and instead of taking one skater down of the team on penalty, a player will be added to the team on the power play, and what you are is 4 on 3. In case of another penalty, then the scenario becomes 5 on 3. 

But in overtime, it is no fun to watch 4 on 3 or 5 on 4. 3-on-3 has charm and excitement for the audience.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens during the 5 on 3 penalties?

If two players from the same team are in a penalty box simultaneously, this case is called ‘5 on 3’. The penalty team will play with three players (the goalie is not included in this count), while the opposing team will play with all five players.

Is there a 6 on 3?

Six-on-three, in the NHL and college, hockey is rare to use or see. However, this can only happen late in the game to level the score. Besides the 1996 minor league game hockey, everyone can only remember 6 on 3 instances during a game in North America.


So, neither you nor the teams have to worry about having just two skaters on the ice. Because it is a must to have three players on the ice in all conditions according to the rules of the NHL, the game will lose its power show if there are 5 on 2. So, don’t worry about it. Just enjoy the game you’re watching.

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  4. How many timeouts do you get in hockey?
  5. What are the rules of ice hockey?
Austin Taylor

Who is Austin Taylor?

Meet Austin Taylor, your go-to source for everything ice hockey! With a passion for the sport that’s as deep as the ice itself, Austin Taylor brings you concise, expert insights and nitty-gritty details on all things hockey. From gear reviews to strategy breakdowns, Austin Taylor is your trusted guide to navigating the exhilarating world of ice hockey. Get ready to lace up your skates and dive into the game with Austin Taylor as your ultimate companion.

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