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Moments That Mattered: Where There’s a Willy...

Taking a look at how a slick breakout resulted in a Nick goal.

Colorado Avalanche v Washington Capitals Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

With about three minutes left in the first period of last night’s tilt against, and looking to take a lead into the intermission to cap a dominant period against one of the NHL’s best squads, the Caps broke the puck neatly out from behind their own net, resulting in an odd-man rush, a Nick Jensen goal, and a 2-1 lead.

Let’s take a closer look.

They play starts behind Ilya Samsonov, with both Caps defensemen and Evgeny Kuznetsov in a 3v3 battle for the puck on the boards (not that it looks like Nathan MacKinnon is doing much to help). Alex Ovechkin stands guard for a puck that squirts to the net mouth, while Tom Wilson will play anything that comes up the boards.

The Caps win the puck to Wilson’s area, and by the time he retrieves it, three other Capitals, including both defenseman, have already reached or passed Wilson’s longitude on the ice. Making matters worse, the young Avalanche defenseman Bowem Byram has underestimated Tom Wilson’s ability to make a quick read and play with the puck, and has pinched from the point.

Wilson throws the puck to the middle of the ice - a high-risk choice, given that if you don’t have any support there’s a high probability it’s going to result in a Grade A look for the other guys. He does have support - the puck ends up on Jensen’s stick, Dmitry Orlov is getting on his horse, and Ovechkin is already skating the way he does when the aroma of odd-man break gets into the air.

The Caps move the puck down the ice unchallenged, functionally have a 3v1 with some half-hearted backcheck pressure on Dmitry Orlov. Alex Ovechkin is wide open in his favorite spot, with the passing lane to him clear as day, so naturally Dmitry Orlov has eyes only for Nick Jensen, who had eight career goals coming into this one. Nonetheless, Jensen puts the puck neatly over Darcy Kuemper’s blocker, and the squad converts on the opposite side of the ice from where the Moment That Mattered happened.

Here’s a look at the full play in video.