Slashing crackdown, infusion of youth boost NHL scoring

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo ,Calgary Flames left wing Johnny Gaudreau (13) celebrates his goal during the first period of an NHL hockey g

FILE - In this Oct. 24, 2017, file photo, New York Islanders' John Tavares (91) celebrates after scoring a goal against Arizona Coyotes goalie Louis D

FILE - In this Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, file photo, Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin, center, of Russia, celebrates his goal with center Ni

The nets aren't bigger, the goaltenders aren't smaller and yet scoring is up significantly around the National Hockey League.

Through the first two months of the season, goals are up more than 12 percent from the same time a year ago, including a whopping 14 percent increase on the power play and a 38 percent spike in short-handed goals.

The uptick can be credited to a concerted crackdown on slashing by issuing more penalties and a league-wide move toward younger and more skilled players. The current pace of 6.01 goals per game would be the highest since 2005-06, when a series of rule changes were put in to open up the game and get more scoring to attract new fans.

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