PWHL RECAP: Boston's Frankel, Tapani Steal Game 1 in Montréal

Aerin Frankel made a record-breaking 53 saves, including several showstoppers, in the overtime win.

PWHL RECAP: Boston's Frankel, Tapani Steal Game 1 in Montréal
Aerin Frankel makes a save during a regular season game. Photo by Kelly Hagenson/PWHL.

Aerin Frankel posted a record-breaking 53 saves and Susanna Tapani potted the game-winner as PWHL Boston stole Game 1 in Montréal last night, 2-1 in overtime.

The first period was all Montréal. Boston didn’t help themselves by taking two penalties, but they also couldn't get anything going at 5v5. They didn’t register a shot on goal until nearly halfway through, and by that point, they were outshot 9-0.

Frankel made her first eye-popping save of the night off a grade-A chance by Marie-Philip Poulin and Laura Stacey. Poulin fed the puck over to Stacey, who was crashing the net hard, but somehow, Frankel got her toe on it.

Through 20 minutes, Boston was outshot 12-2, yet the game was scoreless. After the game, head coach Courtney Kessel spoke about how important it was to come out of the period unscathed.

"Coming into Montréal, you know you’re going to have to weather the storm because the energy in this rink was tremendous," said Kessel. "It was loud from warmups to the end of that game, and we knew that (it would be). Did it go on a little bit longer than we wanted it to? Yeah, for sure, but I think you have to do what you have to do in playoffs, right? Anything can happen, so I think weathering that storm and coming out of that first period 0-0 was huge.”

Boston kicked off the second with over a minute remaining on a penalty kill, and the red-hot Montréal power play made them pay. Stacey fired off a shot, which Frankel got a piece of. However, it leaked through and Kristin O’Neill tapped it home to give Montréal a 1-0 lead.

Montréal continued to dominate for most of the period, and both teams failed to convert on power play opportunities. However, Boston finally started to land more shots on goal toward the end of it, with five in about the final five minutes, although only one was a high-quality look. They returned to the locker room trailing 1-0 while getting outshot 25-10.

Boston needed a hot start to the third, and that’s what they got. Just 1:48 in, Sophie Shirley sent a rocket towards the net, which Lexie Adzija tipped past Ann-Renée Desbiens to tie the game.

A few minutes later, Boston looked like they’d get a chance to build momentum on a power play. However, just 27 seconds in, Kelly Babstock was called for goaltender interference (a questionable call since Desbiens was way out of her crease), so to 4v4 the teams went before an abbreviated Montréal power play.

Montréal picked back up after, with a huge flurry of chances around the halfway mark. However, Frankel continued to be a brick wall.

Boston’s next good scoring chance came when Ann-Renée Desbiens went on an adventure. She came out of her net to play the puck but ended up sending it right into a forechecking Tapani. Tapani had a wide-open cage to shoot at but didn’t elevate the puck, which allowed Desbiens to make an excellent diving save with her stick.

After that, Boston had sustained offensive zone time, but Montréal did an excellent job of boxing them out and blocking shots. Time expired with the game knotted at one and Montréal outshooting Boston 43-18.

After the game, Kessel shared what she thought clicked with her team heading into the third.

"I think it's just more of us committing to our game plan," said Kessel. "Sometimes, when you're in a building that has so much energy and things aren't going your way, you start to get outside of what the game plan is. So I think finally in the third period, we finally settled down and really started to build."

For the first time in PWHL history, we headed to playoff overtime. Boston had a fast start, landing five shots in the first five minutes, and yet they still required Frankel to make a mind-blowing save. Stacey came around the net and fired off a shot that was going wide. However, Sidney Morin was battling Mélodie Daoust off to Frankel's left, and the puck hit her skate. Daoust found it in the crease, but Frankel dove back and got her glove on it just in time.

Things got scary for Boston 11 minutes into overtime when Megan Keller took an ill-advised slashing penalty. However, they managed to kill it off.

Not even two minutes later, Keller ripped a shot on goal, and Theresa Schafzahl found the rebound. She sent it through the crease as chaos ensued, and Tapani tapped it in to seal the win for Boston despite getting outshot 54-25.

Overall, this was clearly not Boston’s best game. However, Frankel went supernova and stole the game to give them a 1-0 series lead. While Frankel is capable of doing it again, Boston needs to have a better and more consistent effort on Saturday. Allowing 54 shots is not usually a winning strategy, and Montréal is sure to have a bitter taste in their mouths after letting this one slip away. Still, a win is a win at this time of year.

After the game, Kessel shared her thoughts on Frankel's outstanding performance.

"I think just tremendous," said Kessel. "Just when you think everyone's beat on the ice, she comes flying across the net. You talk about, she's not the biggest goalie, but her legs seem to always get there. I just think some huge huge saves, I mean 52 shots is too many shots, and we did have some puck luck tonight, but we'll take it because it's playoffs."

The series continues on Saturday at 7 p.m. EDT at Place Bell in Laval, QC.