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Five on Five

What is Five on Five?

The normal situation of play during an NHL game, when both teams have five skaters each on the ice (not including the goaltenders). Five on five play indicates that neither team has taken a penalty, unless they have taken penalties that cancel each other out or have had one of their players receive a game misconduct. 

Sporting Charts explains Five on Five

During a five on five situation, both teams have the same number of skaters, and it is said that the teams are at "even strength". Because the teams also have the maximum players allowed onto the ice, they are also said to be playing at "full strength". Goals scored in five on five situations or at even strength are recorded and kept as a statistic in the NHL along with power play and shorthanded goals.

In a few situations, teams can be playing five on five even while having taken a penalty. If a player on one of the teams receives a ten-minute or game misconduct (also called a match penalty), the player is suspended for the ten minutes or for the remainder of the game, but his team will still be allowed to have five skaters on the ice. If a team has taken a minor or major penalty and are down to four skaters while their opponents are on the power play, there will be a five on five situation if the shorthanded team pulls their goalie to allow for an extra skater on the ice. In that case, the teams will be playing in a five on five situation but they will not be at even strength, because one team will be officially shorthanded. If a fight has occurred between players on opposing teams, both players will be given five-minute major penalties but their teams will still be playing five on five because both penalties will cancel each other out. 

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