Published On: Tue, May 29th, 2018

Coaches' Playbook: How Caps' puck support led to Carlson's highlight-reel goal

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Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Vegas Golden Knights and Washington Capitals certainly had its fair share of action.

The teams combined for 10 goals, Tom Wilson threw another controversial hit, and before the puck even dropped, the Golden Knights’ game ops crew took pregame intros to a previously unseen level.

Once the dust settled, each team produced a litany of prime scoring chances and traded goal after goal, which likely drove both coaching staffs crazy. However, there was some beauty in all the madness, particularly on John Carlson‘s second-period tally, which we’ll break down below.

The full video can be seen here.

With Vegas ahead 3-2 nearly halfway through the middle frame, Washington rookie Jakub Vrana broke into the attacking zone one-on-three – a harmless looking play.

Vrana attempted a shot on goal, but it was deflected behind the net. He pursued the loose puck and beat both Reilly Smith (No. 19 in grey) and Shea Theodore (No. 27).

After getting to the puck, Vrana noticed he had the support of his linemates, and promptly dished a pass to T.J. Oshie (top right).

Oshie one-timed the pass, forcing a quality save from Marc-Andre Fleury that led to a scrum outside the blue paint, where the Caps were outnumbered three to two. But, with Oshie tying up his man, Nicklas Backstrom swooped in to aid his winger and regained possession.

Backstrom (left) then glided up the boards, briefly slowing things down as he drew attention to himself. The gifted setup man spotted Carlson (top) coming off the bench and waited until the blue-liner was onside before making a quick pass.

With Smith playing tight on the point, Carlson riskily attempted to pull it around him, but managed to make a safe play and chip the puck to open ice, where Oshie (bottom) pounced.

Upon realizing Oshie would be first to the puck, Carlson shed his defender and headed right to the slot, where a truly incredible one-touch, no-look pass around Theodore ended up right on his stick.

Yeah, he’s not gonna miss from there.

What started as an ordinary rush quickly turned into a dominant shift for the Capitals, and thanks to some strong puck support on the forecheck, plus a few splashes of showstopping skill, Washington was able to manufacture a key goal in a big moment.

(Photos courtesy:

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