Game Guides

NHL 21 – Best Ways to Score

Having some trouble scoring in NHL 21? We've got just the fix for you.

by Kenny Keelan

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When you start a game of hockey, how to win seems pretty simple: make sure your team has scored more goals than the other team by the end of the game. While the concept of winning the game seems pretty simple, actually doing it can be a little more complicated. Scoring goals in NHL 21 is no different and finding a way to reliably put it in the net could be one of the harder things you’ll do in the game. Once we’ve gone over the best ways to score in NHL 21, you’ll have the tools to amp up your shooting game.

Don’t Be a Hero

Not every play is going to be a highlight-reel goal or play. Most high-risk plays like dekes, stretch passes, moving out of position, or forcing a deflection are considered high-risk because, well, they’re risky! They pay off huge when it counts if they’re performed by the right hands but even then, they don’t always succeed.

Keep in mind that sometimes a well-timed short pass or to throw the puck at the net even if it likely won’t go in will result in a brilliant play, depending on your opponents and your linemates. This is especially true if you’re playing online as what your teammates and opponents will do becomes even more unpredictable.

Puck Movement is Key

NHL 21 has gone to a lot of effort to try and make the game as realistic as possible and, as such, nearly every play that results in a puck in the back of the net comes as a result of great puck movement. Forcing the defense to chase the puck around is a great way to tire them out and force them out of position so the right man for the job can lace the puck up for a beeline to the net.

This makes one-timers even more deadly because a team that can evenly and successfully move the puck around can take the goalie out of position as well, making it even easier to slide the puck in the net, even for the most unskilled of shooters.

A one-timer is pulled off when a player shoots the puck just as they receive the puck so, provided you’re playing any mode other than Be A Pro, you will want to pass the puck to an intended teammate and then aim and swing the shot prior to receiving the puck, releasing the shot just as it comes into your possession. In Be A Pro, you’ll be doing this all in anticipation of receiving a pass. In this case, snap shots are your friend, especially online.

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Don’t Underestimate Bad Angle Shots

Bad angle shots are pretty self-explanatory, as they are shots that are made close to parallel with the goal line. Generally, they’re considered to be bad shots as they are quite easy to save, as goaltenders just need to squeeze up against the side of the net. However, as there are usually only a couple of good ways to save bad angle shots, there’s a lot of ways to get lucky or follow up with something else to easily put the puck into the net.

If teammates and defenders are sitting in front of the net, for example, you could treat the front of the net like a pinball machine and hope that a juicy rebound turns into a bank off of a player that trickles into the net. You could also use the same principle with teammates to try and get a deflection on the net or grab a juicy rebound to slip it around the goalie. Based on the size and shape of the goalie, you might even get lucky with the puck just hitting the goalie and going in anyway.

Some bad angle shots are the definition of a “lucky bounce” and every shot you don’t take when you get an opening could result in a missed opportunity to score.

Offensive Awareness Isn’t Just a Stat

While there is a stat associated with offensive awareness, you’re going to score a lot more just by staying in position and being aware of where you’re supposed to be, where the play is going, and where the puck is going. Sometimes, merely staying in position can secure a goal as you may require double coverage and pull just enough pressure off of the play to allow a teammate to score the puck. Of course, this is really more applicable to online modes and Be A Pro but knowing offensive awareness applies to the puck carrier as well.

If you’re the puck carrier, knowing where the play is divided and how the defense is responding to the play can result in a well-placed pass to someone who is wide open and can make a great shot at the goal. This is more of an observational skill but it’s still incredibly important.

Utilize the Rush

While the one-timer is a key to scoring, especially online, there’s a much more efficient way to take advantage of such a play and that’s while on the rush. Short for an odd-man rush, the rush is when you’re coming into the offensive zone with speed and you have more of your teammates with you than you do defenders against you. It’s a brilliant way to pull goaltenders out of position and ensure the goal.

Speed is key to taking advantage of this because a high acceleration stat allows you to pump right out of a slow position to join the play. The best way to take advantage of a rush is to pass the puck to your teammate and exactly the last moment you can and shoot the puck the moment it’s received. Most of the time this results in a goal.

Of course, the treasured breakaway is another example of a rush, which leads me to…

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The Art of the Deke

I’ve talked about dekes at length in this guide so I won’t go over which types are more effective or how to perform them but, as I stated above, the breakaway is almost always the best time to pull one off. Much like sliding the puck over on the rush to chip in a one-timer, a well-timed deke takes the goalie out of position and gives you all the space in the world to put in the puck.

Pulling off a deke on the breakaway is a little more than just a timed command but rather also the result of good stick-handling and deke stats, meaning that you could time it perfectly and still mess up so know exactly what you’re getting into because a flashy deke might not work as well as a simple juke to move faster than the goalie. Of course, this isn’t always the case online but it’s a great way to score more often in single-player modes.

Watch for the Screen

How well the goalie can see the puck will often determine how able they will be to make a save. This one’s pretty simple; when there’s traffic in front of the net, it’s harder for the goalie to see the puck but the chances of the puck getting through to the net is a little harder. These kinds of shots are a little trickier but they pay off much more as if the traffic includes a couple of your teammates, there’s a better chance of a deflection and those often increase your chances of scoring.

In modes like EASHL and Be A Pro, though, placing yourself in front of the net means you’re the one taking that view away from the goalie and, with some well-placed stats like stick-handling, means that you could have a better chance of grabbing a rebound or deflecting the puck, meaning that you could get the easy goal is you have the ability to react while the goalie is still recovering from the shot.

These are but some of the ways you can really up your shooting game but remember always, play within your stats and play within the play that’s happening on the ice. Keep all of these in mind and I guarantee the goals will start happening much more often!

Be sure to check out our review of NHL 21 and our guide on how to win faceoffs, another important tool in any offensive arsenal!

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