PWHL FINALS RECAP: Boston Forces Game 5 With Dramatic 2OT Win

Alina Müller was the hero, scoring the game-winner just 1:10 after Minnesota had a goal overturned.

PWHL FINALS RECAP: Boston Forces Game 5 With Dramatic 2OT Win
PWHL Boston celebrates their Game 4 win. Photo by Michael Riley/PWHL Boston.

Boston dramatically evened the PWHL Finals last night thanks to Alina Müller's double-overtime tally shortly after a Minnesota goal was overturned.

The first period was thrilling, but not much notable happened. Taylor Heise and Kelly Babstock got matching minors at 11:25 so there was some 4v4 play but other than that, it was just high-quality 5v5 hockey. 

Through 20 minutes, Minnesota got better quality chances than Boston, especially during the final minute. Meanwhile, Boston was much more physical while also managing their highest shot total of any period in this series. They outshot Minnesota 9-8 in the period, but no goals were scored.

The second period started similarly to the first, except with just one combined shot on goal until Jamie Lee Rattray took the game’s first penalty at 4:51. Minnesota managed just one shot on the power play.

Kaleigh Fratkin took a penalty a few minutes later, which Minnesota didn't go much with. After that, the teams kept trading chances. The best ones of the period came during a 30-second stretch with under four minutes remaining when Boston fired three grade-A opportunities at Nicole Hensley, but she stood tall.

Soon after, Boston got their first power play off a Michela Cava tripping call. Their power play remained poor, landing just one shot on goal while allowing Minnesota the best chance before the horn sounded to end the second period. Boston held a 14-11 shot advantage through a scoreless 40 minutes.

Boston kicked off the third period with 23 seconds left on the power play, which they did little with. Minnesota got two power plays and was the better team for much of the third, although they never felt dominant. Still, Frankel had to make several grade-A saves to keep her team alive. 

Naturally, 60 minutes was not enough for such a pivotal game, so to overtime the teams went for the first time this series. At that point, Minnesota held a narrow 20-19 shot advantage.

Minnesota continued to get more looks for most of the first overtime. However, Boston made their few looks count, so both goaltenders had to make ridiculous saves to keep the game going. Boston got a power play with under five minutes remaining, but they failed to convert yet again, so this one needed double overtime.

Grace Zumwinkle and Denisa Křížová nearly ended it for Minnesota just a few minutes into the second overtime, but Frankel got just enough of her blocker on it to send the puck wide.

Boston got another power play opportunity over 12 minutes in, but they still couldn’t find a way to bury one. Not long after, things got wacky.

Taylor Heise went streaking into the Boston zone with Jessica DiGirolamo defending. Heise slipped on her way to crash the net and crashed into Frankel. At the same time, Sophie Jaques found the puck and fired it into the net, apparently sealing the win for Minnesota. They cleared the bench, throwing their helmets, gloves, and sticks while celebrating in the corner. However, this game would not end so simply.

The play was reviewed, and the call on the ice was (correctly) overturned for goaltender interference since Heise found her way into Frankel on her own. So, Minnesota had to collect their gear and play resumed. 

Just 1:10 later, Alina Müller rocketed a shot past Hensley’s ear to force Game 5.

“I just tried to put my body against a wall, against the other player, trying to bring the puck out,” said Müller after the game. “Then, somehow, I tried to get inside positioning and the puck bounced to me. It was a good forecheck and then I tried to get it off as quick as I can, as high as I can [sic].”

Overall, this was a thrilling, tightly-matched game with a wild finish. Minnesota had more high-quality chances, but Frankel played her heart out again to keep Boston in it. At the other end, Hensley also made some outstanding saves to do what she could to keep her team’s dreams of winning the Walter Cup on home ice alive, but Boston found a way to beat her in the end.

During their postgame media availability, Müller, Frankel, and Boston head coach Courtney Kessel shared how they felt the momentum was on their side after the overturned goal.

“It’s obviously deflating when you’re playing a game this long and you think you score a goal, and then you’re celebrating on the ice and it gets called back,” said Frankel. “I think right away we just kinda hit the reset. We’ve been in overtime so much already this year, and I think we just stuck to the systems that’ve been working for us this year.” 

Later, Kessel joked about how the team’s run of close games is “going to kill” her, before talking about how Frankel’s play has allowed them to win so many of them.

“I think we’ve seen that she’s the Green Monster,” said Kessel. “Tremendous, I think, from the moment we came back from Worlds. We’ve come back with a different group and the resiliency has been tremendous…it starts with Franks, and just her ability to stay calm through all these ups and downs and…win games for us. That’s what you want heading into the championship, if you have a hot goalie you can win.”

The PWHL Finals continue with a deciding Game 5 on Wednesday at 7 p.m. EDT at the Tsongas Center in Lowell, MA.