A one-on-one situation between a player and a goaltender, in which the player is in the attacking zone and has a clear path to the goal with only the goaltender to beat. Unlike a penalty shot or a shootout attempt, a breakaway occurs while the game clock is running, and there are other players - teammates and opponents - on the ice besides the player on the breakaway and the goaltender.
Because players on a breakaway have more time and space than they would if defenders were covering them, they will usually look to deke out or to surprise the goaltender with a quick shot; a player on a breakaway will rarely take a slap shot.
Breakaway situations can be created when a player who was serving a penalty leaves the penalty box and receives a pass from a teammate to send them alone on the goaltender, or when an opponent turns the puck over to a player who is able to get past their opponents and converge on the goal. A player who is interfered with when on a breakaway will receive a penalty shot, subject to the referee on the ice spotting the infraction.