What is a point in hockey? Goals vs Points Explained

Of course we want to know what a point in hockey is – it is the main stat a player is judged by. However, it can be a little confusing. What actually makes a point a point? Are goals and assists each considered points?  Let’s get through the confusion! 

What is a point in hockey? The ‘P’ in hockey stats stands for ‘Points’. A player gets one point for each goal or assist that they score and ‘Points’ are the cumulative total of all the goals and assists that a player accumulates. 

The simplest way to look at it is Goals + Assists = Points

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Let’s look at this a little more closely at points in hockey and the best way to do that is with some examples. 

Goals vs assists? Do both count as one point? 

Before we get to the examples there is one question we need to ask: do goals and assists count as one point?

Yes, both goals and assists both count as one point.

For each goal scored in the NHL it can have up to two assists – a primary, and secondary assist. Assists are awarded to the last two players on the goal scorer’s team who have touched the puck after regaining possession from the other team before the goal was scored.

In other words, if our team steals the puck from the other team and it gets passed or touched by two different players before a goal is scored each of those players gets an assist.

A goal can be unassisted or only have one assist attached to it.

Both the goal and each of the assists will count as one point towards the players stats. Since there are up to two assists awarded per goal most players will have more assists than points. 

Now, let’s get to those examples. 

Examples for reading points stats

How to read the box score and a players statistics to figure out points: 

When you are looking at the boxscore of a game they will list the goals like this:

what is a hockey point

This was from a game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Vegas Golden Knights and highlights what happened in the first period.

At the 2 minute and 53 second mark Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins scored a goal that was assisted by Bryan Rust and Dominik Kahun.  The ‘12’ beside Malkin’s name indicates that it was his 12th goal of the season. As well it was Rust’s 18th assist of the season and Kahun’s 13th.

The goal and assists each count as 1 point for the players.

At the bottom of the game box score it will list all of the goals, assists and points the players get in the game.

For the Penguins top players it looked like this:

First to note that P for Points is being represented as PTS, which is often the case and why I put this example in here.

Remember: Goals + Assists = Points.

In this game Dominik Kahun got 1 goal and 1 assist for a cumulative of 2 points. Malkin had 1 goal + 0 Assists = 1 Point

When you look at a players individual statistics you will see the cumulative total of goals, assists, and points that they had in all of the games that year.

Does the leader of total points in a season get an award? 

Yes, the player who gets the most points in the year is awarded with the Art Ross Trophy. 

Is a goal ever worth more than an assist? 

There is one exception! Now a goal and an assist are always worth a point. 

However, what happens if two players are tied with the same amount of points in the league leader standings? Who do they rank first or is it simply a tie? 

If two players are tied in the standings in points the player who has more goals is determined to be ahead of the player with less goals. 

This has made a difference. 

In Wayne Gretzky’s first year in the NHL he tied for the league lead in points with Marcel Dionne. They each had 137 points. 

Marcel Dionne was deemed to have won the points race because he had more goals. Dionne scored 53 versus Gretzky’s 51. 

Dionne won the Art Ross Trophy for the league leader in points, and Gretzky would have to wait one more year before he got his name on it. 

How many points does a player get in an NHL season?

There is a wide variation of point totals for players who play for a whole season, because there is wide range of different types of players. Some players are offensively gifted, while others are in the league who have a more defensive focus.

With that being said, a player who plays the whole season will get between 20 to 100 points. If you can maintain a 40 point pace or higher there is a pretty good chance you will find a contract

Stats for the top 10 point leaders for the 2022-23 season 

C. McDavidEdmonton153
L. DraisaitlEdmonton128
N. KucherovTampa Bay113
D. PastrnakBoston113
N. MacKinnonColorado111
J. RobertsonDallas109
M. TkachukFlorida109
M. RantanenColorado105
R. Nugent-HopkinsEdmonton104
E. PetterssonVancouver102

The top point season of all time was by Wayne Gretzky – check out a breakdown of points Gretzky scored for each team he played for. He scored 215 points in the 1985-86 season. In fact Gretzky has 9 of the top 10 point seasons. The lone exception was Mario Lemieux who registered 199 points in a season.  

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Frequently Asked Questions?

Can a goaltender get points? 

Yes, a goaltender can get points and they often do. If they are one of the two people to touch the puck before a goal gets scored they will get an assist. And, a handful of times goalies have scored into open nets earning themselves a goal. 

Do players get points they score in overtime?

Yes, players do get points for any goals or assists the accumulate during the overtime period (but not the shootout)

Do players get points for shootout goals? 

No, players do not get a point for a shootout goal. However, they do get one for a penalty shot. 

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