In which part of ice hockey game most goals are scored?

It is quite natural that various part of hockey game have different dynamics and also different likelihood of scoring a goal. There are several factors. Players get more tired with time. In second period the bench is further from the defensive zone, which makes change more difficult. Close to the end to the game it is more usual that the trailing team often pulls the goalie, which increases the change of empty net goal but also of scoring by the team with more skaters.

1 Answer
1

The NHL.com website has number of goals by period per team.

  • Navigate to NHL.com -> Statistics -> Teams.
  • Then, select a season and for “Report,” select “Goals by Period.”

In which part of ice hockey game most goals are scored?

For the 2016-2017 NHL regular season, here is the breakdown:

  • Period 1: 1901 (.773 goals per game during this period)
  • Period 2: 2323 (.944)
  • Period 3: 2290 (.931)

For the 2015-2016 NHL regular season:

  • Period 1: 1787 (.726)
  • Period 2: 2255 (.917)
  • Period 3: 2355 (.957)

For the 2014-2015 NHL regular season:

  • Period 1: 1874 (.762)
  • Period 2: 2249 (.914)
  • Period 3: 2290 (.931)

For the 2013-2014 NHL regular season:

  • Period 1: 1897 (.769)
  • Period 2: 2245 (.913)
  • Period 3: 2317 (.942)

For the 2012-2013 NHL regular season (lockout-shortened to 48 games):

  • Period 1: 1125 (.781)
  • Period 2: 1332 (.925)
  • Period 3: 1300 (.903)

For the 2011-2012 NHL regular season:

  • Period 1: 1924 (.782)
  • Period 2: 2254 (.916)
  • Period 3: 2248 (.914)

Thus, with this four season season sample size:

  • The second and third periods are very close. Perhaps a deeper statistical plotting of said data will reveal more.
    • Note: The second period is amazingly consistent with a range of 10 goals between the 2011-2012 and 2015-2016 NHL regular seasons*!
  • The first period is clearly the time frame in which the least goals are scored.
  • Taking the average goals per game during each period (total goals / (# of games * # of teams)), it is more evident how close second period and third period goal scoring is.

* – excluding the lockout-shortened 2012-2013 NHL regular season

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