NHL Short-Handed Goals Cue Wins 70% of the Time

It’s always felt like a team that allows a short-handed goal loses that game most of the time in the NHL. The feeling is accurate. Nearly a century’s worth of evidence validates the theory about one of the most devastating plays in hockey.

Examples are fresh. The eighth-seeded Washington Capitals trailed the Presidents’ Trophy winner New York Rangers 3-2 at Madison Square Garden with three minutes, eight seconds left in the second period of Game 2 of the Stanley Cup playoff first-round series. Hammered by blue-line injuries and seeking a beachhead in a tough road environment, the Capitals were in it.

Then Alexander Ovenchin’s inability to handle a pass along the boards sent the Rangers screaming onto their offensive zone, where K’Andre Miller scored what would be the decisive goal in a 4-3 Rangers victory. Washington went from building momentum and attempting to tie the game on the power play to down 2-0 in the series.

UPDATE: The Rangers won Game 3 with the help of a Barclay Goodrow short-hander in a 3-1 victory.

By any analysis, New York has been the more successful team this season, with a superior roster reflected in the Rangers entering the playoffs as a massive NHL betting favorite in the series.

However, their Game 1 win was another data point that supported a long-held maxim. According to information provided by Sportradar, the official betting data rights partner of the NHL, since the 1933-34 season, teams have a .699 win percentage in games where they score a short-handed goal. They earn at least a point 71% percent of the time.

Also at GT: Stanley Cup Odds | New York Sports Betting | What is a Puckline Bet?

Shorties a Force of Statistics, Hustle, Momentum

Goodrow’s short-hander marked the 372nd time the Rangers used a penalty-kill tally to win. NHL short-handed

“It’s disastrous, obviously, particularly in a tight game,” Monumental Sports Network Capitals insider Tarik El-Bashir told Gaming Today. “It also impacts the rest of the power play. … I can’t imagine many PPs score after giving up a shorty.”

Philadelphia winger Travis Konecy was the regular-season leader with six.

The Montreal Maroons will likely be memorialized as the kings of NHL opportunism. The two-time Stanley Cup champions, inactive since 1938, won at a .800 clip, albeit in just 20 games, when scoring short-handed.

The Vegas Golden Knights are the active-franchise leaders at 77.6%, but benefit from a small sample, too, as an expansion franchise in the 2017-18 season.

Boston has been the most prolific of the Original Six clubs, ranking third at 74.1% with a league-high 443 wins in such situations.

The Toronto Maple Leafs, also of the Orginal Six (67.8%), have the most losses in league history (145) when scoring short-handed.

Most Successful NHL Teams When Scoring Short-Handed

(Via Sportsradar. Through April 27, 2024)

Montreal Maroons.800.80015320
Vegas Golden Knights.776.802451003
Boston Bruins.741.7544431225216
Philadelphia Flyers.739.7553721014217
Buffalo Sabres.724.738268832611
New York Rangers.724.730372120477
Seattle Kraken.722.75013401


About the Author
Brant James

Brant James

Senior Writer
Brant James is a senior writer who covers the sports betting industry and legislation at Gaming Today. An alum of the Tampa Bay Times, ESPN.com, espnW, SI.com, and USA Today, he's covered motorsports and the NHL as beats. He also once made a tail-hook landing on an aircraft carrier with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and rode to the top of Mt. Washington with Travis Pastrana. John Tortorella has yelled at him numerous times.

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