Ottawa and Boston Split Games as Both Try to Turn Season Around

Ottawa and Boston split a two-game series this week at Tsongas Center in Lowell, Mass. Ottawa won the first, snapping their five game winless streak, and Boston won the second to end their four-game skid.

Ottawa and Boston Split Games as Both Try to Turn Season Around
Boston has won two of their three games against Ottawa | Photo by Simon Hopkins

Ottawa sits squarely at the bottom of the PWHL standings — two points behind New York and Boston — after the week's two-game series between Ottawa and Boston. The difference maker in the points race between these three teams is overtime. New York only has two regulation wins, but they’ve won four games in overtime. Boston has split their four overtime games evenly, but Ottawa has lost every game they’ve gone to additional frames.

In the first game, Ottawa capitalized on special teams opportunities. This was something they worked on in practice ahead of the trip. Coach Carla MacLeod spent most of Friday’s practice ahead of Ottawa’s game against Minnesota working on power play and penalty kill. The team ran drills from the faceoff dot at both ends of the ice over and over again.

Ottawa continued with their shuffled lineup first debuted against Minnesota Feb. 17. MacLeod has moved Gabbie Huges up to centre the top line, flanked by Emily Clark and Hayley Scamurra. Off the bat this line has looked strong and aggressive, but Ottawa continues to see finishing struggles, especially from its bottom six.

Daryl Watts shone in this game, scoring her second of the season. She made a nice passing play with Brianne Jenner, who returned the puck for a Watts tap-in. Hughes capitalized on two special teams opportunities on Feb. 19, scoring both power-play and penalty kill goals in the second period.

Boston fought back hard in the second. Taylor Girard scored two minutes into the period as Boston turned up the pressure. Hughes scored her power-play goal with five minutes remaining in the period, but Abby Cook scored and tied it up a minute later. Hughes’ shorthanded goal came with 12 seconds remaining in the second, and the third was scoreless except for Jenner’s empty net goal.

After a strong first win by Ottawa, Boston returned the favour on Feb. 21. Loren Gabel opened the scoring with a pinpoint shot through traffic that beat Emerance Maschmeyer. Boston’s gamewinning goal, which came in the second, was through a similar amount of traffic. Susanna Tapani scored her first since being traded to Boston earlier in February. She tipped a hard shot from Megan Keller.

Maschmeyer has been strong in the Ottawa net but struggled with a crowd in front — as any goalie would. Ottawa has the big bodies of centres like Lexie Adzija or defenders like Jincy Roese, but they aren’t doing enough to clear the paint in front of the net.

Kateřina Mrázová scored Ottawa’s only goal in this game. Watts made a similar play to her goal from the previous game, but this time Mrázová finished the job.

Ottawa and Boston have both made lineup changes try and kindle some wins. Boston has brought in Tapani to centre their top line in what I think will be a pivotal move. Ottawa has released Mikyla Grant-Mentis and Tori Howran since the start of the season, bringing in Rosalie Demers and Emma Buckles. Buckles’ first two games of the year were the two against Boston. She had one shot as the seventh defender. Demers has yet to play a game.

Ottawa is scheduled to play in Montréal on Feb. 24. Boston’s next game is in Minnesota on Feb. 25.