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In team sports, a shutout (a clean sheet in association football) is a game in which one team prevents the other from scoring any points. While possible in most major sports, they are highly improbable in some sports, such as basketball.
Shutouts are usually seen as a result of effective defensive play even though a weak opposing offense may be as much to blame. Some sports credit individual players, particularly goalkeepers and starting pitchers, with shutouts and keep track of them as statistics; others do not.
In Major League Baseball, a shutout (denoted statistically as ShO or SHO) refers to the act by which a single pitcher pitches a complete game and does not allow the opposing team to score a run. If two or more pitchers combine to complete this act, no pitcher will be awarded a shutout, although the team itself can be said to have "shut out" the opposing team.
The all-time career leader in shutouts is Walter Johnson, who pitched for the Washington Senators from 1907–1927. He accumulated 110 shutouts, which is 20 more than second placed Grover Cleveland Alexander. The most shutouts recorded in one season was 16, which was a feat accomplished by both Grover Alexander (1916) and George Bradley (1876). These records are considered among the most secure records in baseball, as pitchers today rarely earn more than one or two shutouts per season with a heavy emphasis on pitch count and relief pitching. Complete games themselves have also become rare among starting pitchers. The current active leader in shutouts is Tim Hudson of the San Francisco Giants. Entering his fifteenth season, he has recorded 13 shutouts, which ties him for 463rd all time. Only four pitchers whose entire careers were in the post-1920 live-ball era threw as many as 60 career shutouts, with Warren Spahn leading those pitchers with 63.
In ice hockey, a shutout (SO) is credited to a goaltender who successfully stops the other team from scoring during the entire game. A shutout may be shared between two goaltenders, but will not be listed in either of their individual statistics. The record holder for most regular-season career shutouts in the National Hockey League is Martin Brodeur with 123 (see the all-time regular season shutout leaders). The modern-day record for a team being shut out in a season is held by the Columbus Blue Jackets at sixteen, during the 2006-2007 NHL season.
In the event a shutout happens while using several goaltenders, the shutout will be credited to the team who shut out the opponent; however, no single goaltender will be awarded the shutout. It has happened several times in NHL history, including:
- During the 1982–83 Washington Capitals season, the Washington Capitals and their goalies Al Jensen and Pat Riggin shared a shutout.
- December 8, 2001: the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim won 4–0 over the Minnesota Wild with Jean-Sébastien Giguère and later, Steve Shields in goal.
- November 23, 2006: the Nashville Predators won 6–0 over the Vancouver Canucks with Tomas Vokoun who left the game injured. He was replaced by Chris Mason who completed the game.
- December 12, 2007: the Ottawa Senators won 6–0 over the Carolina Hurricanes with Ray Emery who left the game injured after making one save. He was replaced by Martin Gerber who made the other 31 saves.
- December 1, 2009: the Toronto Maple Leafs won 3–0 over the Montreal Canadiens with Jonas Gustavsson who left the game after the first period because of heart problems. He was replaced by Joey MacDonald who played the last two periods.
- February 2, 2011: the Pittsburgh Penguins won 3–0 over the New York Islanders with Brent Johnson who was ejected from the game after instigating a fight with Islanders' goalie Rick DiPietro with 17 seconds left in the third period. Johnson was replaced by goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.
- December 6, 2011: Roberto Luongo of the Vancouver Canucks stopped all his shots against the Colorado Avalanche before taking a shot to the neck; his replacement Cory Schneider completed the team shutout.
- April 14, 2012: the St. Louis Blues won 3–0 over the San Jose Sharks with Jaroslav Halak who left the game after a collision with teammate Barret Jackman in the second period. He was replaced by Brian Elliott who made 17 saves to conserve the shutout.
- February 28, 2013: The Chicago Blackhawks won 3-0 over the St. Louis Blues. Corey Crawford left the game after the first period for unspecified reasons, and was replaced by Ray Emery, who completed the second and third periods. This win also extended the Blackhawks' streak of games without a regulation loss to start a season to 20.
- March 26, 2013: The Pittsburgh Penguins won 1-0 over the Montreal Canadiens. At the start of the third period, Marc-Andre Fleury was replaced by Tomas Vokoun after sustaining an unspecified injury late in the second period. Fleury stopped all of 25 shots, while Vokoun stopped all of 12.
- February 3, 2014: The Detroit Red Wings won 2-0 over the Vancouver Canucks. Goalie Jonas Gustavsson stopped all 8 shots faced in the first period, but did not return for the second period due to dizziness. Jimmy Howard stopped all 16 shots in the remainder of the game.
- April 8, 2014: The Tampa Bay Lightning won 3-0 over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Goalie Ben Bishop stopped all 3 shots faced in the first period, but fell awkwardly making a glove save and left the game. Anders Lindback stopped all 25 shots in the remainder of the game. Neither goalie was given a shutout, however the team itself received that stat.
In association football a team, defence or goalkeeper may be said to "keep a clean sheet" if they prevent their opponents scoring any goals during an entire match. Because association football is a relatively low-scoring game, it is common for one team, or even both teams, to score no goals. A theory as to the term's origin is that sports reporters used separate pieces of paper to record the different statistical details of a game. If one team did not allow a goal, then that team's "details of goals conceded" page would appear blank, leaving a clean sheet.
A shutout in American football is uncommon but not exceptionally rare. Keeping an opponent scoreless in American football requires a team's defense to be able to consistently shut down both pass and run offenses over the course of a game. The difficulty of completing a shutout is compounded by the many ways a team can score in the game. For example, teams can attempt field goals, which have a high rate of success. The range of NFL caliber kickers makes it possible for a team with a weak offense to get close enough (within 50 yards) to the goalposts and kick a field goal. In the decade of the 2000s there were 89 shutouts in 2,544 NFL regular-season games, for an average of slightly more than one shutout every two weeks in an NFL season. The most recent shutout in the NFL was on 2 November 2014 when the Miami Dolphins beat the San Diego Chargers 37-0.
Shelbyville Tennessee's Bedford County Training School Fighting Tigers recorded 52 consecutive shutouts from 1942 to 1949, a record for an American high school football team. The second-longest streak is 18.
The achievement of a shutout is much more difficult in Canadian football, where scoring and offensive movement is generally more frequent and a single point can be scored simply by punting the ball from any point on the field into the end zone.
The term "shutout" is not in common usage in European sport, and thus is not applied to European rugby, and there is no alternative term for the occurrence of a team achieving a no score, except to say that the team scored "nil". For example, the December 2006 Magners League match between Munster and Connacht ended 13–0 to Munster; it was, therefore, said that Munster won "thirteen-nil".
Generally, a defensively well-disciplined team, as well as behaviourally (not giving away penalty kicks), is most likely to not give away scores. This may also occur if there is a significant difference in class between the two teams, for example, when Scotland beat Spain (who were playing in their only Rugby World Cup) 48–0 in the 1999 Rugby World Cup, or when Australia beat Namibia 142–0 in the 2003 Rugby World Cup. The most recent shutout win was England against Scotland on 8 February 2014 where they won 20-0.
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- Sports Reference LLC (2010). "Pete Alexander at Baseball-Reference.com". Retrieved July 5, 2010.
- Sports Reference LLC (2010). "Yearly League Leaders & Records for Shutouts". Retrieved July 5, 2010.
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