NHL 21: Beginner’s guide to scoring – How to score goals, controls, and tips

Want to score more goals?

It’s not hard to figure what the main goal of hockey is: Score more goals than the opponent. You can’t win games unless you score, so knowing how to consistently put the puck in the net is critical in NHL 21. If you’re a newcomer to the NHL franchise, scoring might be difficult. Luckily for you, we have you covered, as we will give you an in-depth overview on how to score in NHL 21. In this guide, we’ll go over the basic controls, plus some tips that you should keep in mind while you play on the virtual ice.

NHL 21 Shooting and Skating controls

Before we dive into the controls, let’s point something out very important. In this tutorial, we will cover the Skill Stick controls for shooting and skating. In NHL 21, you have three different control options: Classic NHL 94, Hybrid, and the Skill Stick. The NHL 94 controls are about as basic as you can get, while the Hybrid is a cross between the classic NHL 94 controls and the Skill Stick. The Skill Stick controls are advanced, but it’s highly recommended that you use this setup rather than the classic or Hybrid ones.The reason is that you will have better control of your players and can change your strategies and lines in-game. You won’t have these options at your disposal with the other two setups.

Now that we’ve gone over that let’s go over some of the controls you will need to know to skate and shoot in NHL 21.

MoveXB1 ControlsPS4 Controls
Skating/Shot & Pass AimL (Any direction)Left Stick (Any direction)
Hustle LS (Press and hold)Left Stick (Press and hold)
GlideL (Release)Left Stick (Release)
Vision ControlLT (Hold)L2 (Hold)
Protect PuckAX
Wind Up + ShootR (Down) + R (Up)Right Stick (Down) + Right Stick (Up)
Fake ShotR (Down (Release))Right Stick (Down (Release))
PassRTR2
Pass (Higher Strength)RT (Hold)R2 (Hold)
Saucer PassRBR1
Deke (Put puck on Backhand or Forehand)RS (Left or Right)Right Stick (Left or Right)
One Touch DekeL + LBLeft Stick + L1
SpinLTL2
Leg Kick RSRight Stick (Press and hold)
Dump PuckRB + R (Up)R1 + Right Stick (Up)
Chop PuckRS (Press and hold) + RRight Stick (Press and hold) + Right Stick
Line ChangeB/XCircle/Square
Boardplay [Near Boards]Y (Hold)Triangle (Hold)
Cancel Pass (While holding)LBL1
An overview of the controls for offense in NHL 21. (XB1)

Now that we’ve taken a look at the basic controls, it’s time to go over what you need to about scoring goals, starting with this very important tip: keep it simple

Tips for scoring in NHL 21

1. Keep it simple on the ice

In hockey, sometimes less is more. Rather than try to pull off a great pass to set up an open or dangle your way to a highlight-reel goal, one of the keys to scoring goals is that you need to make simple plays to set yourself or your teammates up. This involves breaking the puck out in a simplistic manner, avoiding making high-risk stretch passes, and being in position if you’re in EASHL. Before you do anything else, positioning and simplicity is something you need to beat in your head.

2. Get used to one-timers and cross-ice passes

Once you get into the swing of things in NHL 21, you might notice one particular play is used quite frequently in this year’s game: one-times shots. One-timed shots have become quite popular in recent years, as these shots tend to have a higher percentage of success than other ones. This is because these shots are hard, and in some cases, tough for goalies to track down. Goaltenders have an even harder time stopping these shots when these plays are preceded by a cross-ice pass, as goalies have to move across the crease quickly to make a save.

The number of times you’ll see these goals in online play, regardless of what game mode, will be annoying at times. However, there’s a reason why you will see these plays a lot: One-timers are effective. But you might be asking yourself a question about one-timers: How do I set up one, so I don’t get left behind? Let’s go over the steps:

  1. While in possession of the puck, locate an open teammate.
  2. Press RT/R2 to pass to said teammate
  3. Shoot the puck immediately upon receiving the puck. You should be winding up to shoot before you even have possession of the puck.

One-timers have a good degree of success, but if you want an even greater chance to put home a juicy scoring chance, you might want to consider…

3. Putting shooters on their off-wing

What we mean by that is this: put right-handed shots on the left side of the ice (i.e., LW or LD) and left-handed shots on the right side of the ice (i.e., RW or RD). The reason for this is two-fold, as you can 1) Better protect the puck and 2) Put yourself in a prime position to score. For example, if you have a left-handed shot on the right side, and a cross-ice pass goes right to said player, the puck will hit the stick of the recipient quicker, and you’ll have an easier time releasing the biscuit for a shot.

4. Don’t underestimate short-side shots

Just because we’ve spent a lot of time talking about one-timers doesn’t mean there are other ways to put the puck past the netminder. The short-side shot has become increasingly popular, and it will most likely remain a go-to play even though goalies have been tuned to better handle these shots in NHL 21.

To perform a short-side shot, we recommend that you have your players on their off-wing, as it will increase the success rate. While you are skating up the ice, prepare your shot as you normally would, but aim the shot towards the goalie’s short-side. If the goalie is towards the right side (your right) of the crease, aim to the right side of the net. If the goalie is towards the left, aim the shot to the left side of the net.

5. Cycling can help you out

No, we’re not talking about bicycles here. Cycling the puck can be helpful to set up goals, especially if you are playing in EASHL. Cycling involves moving the puck around and passing it around the offensive zone of the ice. This can help set up nifty scoring opportunities, as it can get the opposing forwards and defenders to chase the puck. Getting the other team to chase is your main goal, as that will get those players out of position and out of your way. Just make sure that you protect the puck if the opposition is aggressive, as the last thing you’ll want is to lose possession and surrender a scoring chance.

Other tips

There are three other important tips you should know about scoring:

  1. Speed, speed, and speed. – We mentioned this in our HUT tips article, and we’ll state it again: You need to have speed on your team. This can help you set up more scoring chances off the rush. Make sure you have fast players to use in Online Versus and HUT, and pick a good loadout in EASHL to maximize speed.
  2. Use your dekes – Deking can be a great way to set yourself up for goals. Backhand-forehands and between-the-legs shots are just a few dekes you can use to beat goalies. The former, in particular, is a nifty way to beat AI goalies.
  3. Positioning is vital – This tip is geared more towards EASHL players, To get open for scoring chances, you need to stay in position. Also, be mindful of what your teammates are doing. This involves staying on your side of the ice, retrieving passes around the boards, and screening the goalie when you can. Be a good teammate.