Can you have a 5 on 2 in Hockey

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

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 of the team. In a power play, the penalized team play with short-handed means with the minimum number of players while the other team gets full advantage of power play with all its players on the ice arena, which goes on for about two minutes.

In case the penalized team has one penalty, they will play with 4 members of the team against the other 5 member’s team, commonly known as 5-on-4 power play. But, if there are multiple penalties on the penalized team, they will play with 3 members against the other 5 player’s team, resulting in 5 on 3 power play. 

5-on-3 power play is like a blessing for the team on the power play and the worst time for the team on a penalty. Speaking of 5 on 3 power play, here sometimes the question arises in my and other fans’ mind, is there 5 on 2 power play? And what will be the situation at that time for both teams? Will it be a clear win for the team on the power play and an open loss to the team on a penalty?     

Is There 5 On 2 In Hockey?

No, there is no chance for 5 on 2 in hockey ever. A team can never have players less than 3 on ice not counting of the goalie. But if a team takes more than one penalty while they have 3 players on ice, then the penalty will be served at the termination of penalty time with the minimum amount of time left. 

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

What Happens For Team On Penalty With 5 On 3 Players On 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 the position where they have only 2 players on ice against the 5 players’ opposition. Because this will give deemed 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 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 take another penalty while being on 5 on 3 penalties? Will they be forced to have 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 at the conclusion of 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, known as delayed penalization.

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


Suppose a player A of team Alpha has taken a penalty at 10:00 minute 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 minute, and the team now get down to 5 on 3.

Lastly, player C of team Alpha takes another 2 minutes penalty at 11:00 minutes. Now, 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 12:30 minute mark, and team Alpha now has 5 on 4.

After Player A’s penalty expires at 12:00, he will still be not allowed to be 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, it’s so exciting to watch overtime 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 get penalized in overtime? Will the team get short to 3 on 2? The answer is again NO. A team will never get penalized to this point to have 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 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. 

The Bottom Line on Can you have a 5 on 2 in Hockey?

So, neither you nor teams have to worry about having just two skaters on the ice. Because it is a must to have 3 players on the ice in all conditions according to the rules of NHL, the game will lose its power show if there is 5 on 2. So, don’t worry about it. Just enjoy the game you’re watching.

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