RECAP: Knight Powers Boston Past Ottawa in Detroit

Boston earned the inside track for the final playoff spot with a 2-1 shootout win.

RECAP: Knight Powers Boston Past Ottawa in Detroit
Hilary Knight beats Emerance Maschmeyer for the shootout winner. Photo courtesy of the PWHL.

Hilary Knight was the hero in Detroit yesterday, scoring Boston’s lone goal and notching the shootout winner to power her team past Ottawa by a final of 2-1. Boston now sits fourth in the standings, one point ahead of Ottawa.

This game also broke the U.S. attendance record for a professional women’s hockey game. 13,736 fans showed up and brought incredible energy, passing the previous record of 13,316, which was set by the PWHL Minnesota back on January 6 as they faced off against Montréal.

Megan Keller, a Michigan native, spoke after the game about what it was like to play in front of that kind of crowd.

“It exceeded them [my expectations],” said Keller. “It was pretty special to play in front of this crowd. They were loud all night. Especially coming home to Michigan and bringing the PWHL here is awesome to be a part of and hopefully it’s not the last time that we’re playing here. Hopefully there were a lot of young girls in the crowd here tonight and now they have something to look forward to and look up to once they’re our age."

Moving on to the game itself, Boston started this one exactly how they hoped. They were ready from the first puck drop and got rewarded just 3:05 into the game. Hilary Knight poked home a Megan Keller rebound that was sitting in the crease to give Boston the early lead. Hannah Brandt also assisted on the goal.

Boston then dominated the rest of the first half of the period. By the halfway mark, shots were 7-1 Boston.

However, Ottawa picked up the pace significantly in the second half of the period and got several great chances. Luckily for Boston, Frankel (and her posts) were up to the task.

Boston then got the first penalty of the day, with Kaleigh Fratkin going for slashing at 13:51. Ottawa came into this game with the top power play in the league, converting at a 27.2% rate. They showed Boston why, as Emily Clark ripped one top shelf to tie the game at 15:20.

Ottawa then got a few more chances before getting a penalty of their own at 19:17 when Gabbie Hughes got called for tripping. But, Boston couldn’t get much going on it.

The first period ended with the score tied at one and Boston holding a slight 11-10 shot advantage. Boston started the period on fire, but Ottawa surged in the second half, and Frankel had to come up with some big saves to keep the game tied.

Boston started the second period with 1:17 remaining on the power play, but their woes continued as they still didn’t get much going. For the 26th straight time, Boston failed to convert on the power play.

Several minutes later, Loren Gabel took a hard, awkward hit behind the net, and she was down on the ice in obvious pain for several minutes. Trainers eventually got her up, but she required significant help getting off. The latest update came during the game while she got X-rays on her AC joint, so here’s hoping for the best for her. 

Nearly 12 minutes in, Daryl Watts got a phenomenal chance on a breakaway. She made a nifty move, but Frankel made a huge right-pad save to keep the game tied.

The teams then traded chances pretty equally. With around three minutes remaining in the second, the broadcast showed scoring chances as 6-5 in favor of Ottawa, while Boston held a 17-16 shot advantage.

Boston got another power play towards the end of the period, as Ashton Bell went for interference at 17:31. However, they again failed to get much going. The power play has been a glaring issue for Boston for inexplicable reasons because if you look at their roster, they should be deadly with the player advantage. Yet, they sit dead last in the league with just a 5% success rate.

Four seconds after the Boston power play expired, Kaleigh Fratkin headed to the box for high-sticking, sending Boston to the PK. But, Boston buckled down and killed the clock, so the teams headed back to the locker room still tied at one, with Boston outshooting Ottawa 18-17. Both teams had several excellent chances in the period, but the goaltenders were outstanding.

There is little to report from the third period. Boston started the period with more jump, but Ottawa got more chances through the first half. Boston then picked it back up for the second half. However, despite getting outshot, Ottawa was pushing Boston around a bit physically, and they did a good job of keeping the Boston shots to the perimeter.

60 minutes was not enough to decide this one. The third period ended with the score still tied at one, while Boston outshot Ottawa 25-22.

Boston and Ottawa gave us perhaps the most entertaining PWHL overtime yet. Ottawa got more chances on goal, but overall, it featured a ton of heart-stopping back-and-forth play. Then, with less than a minute to go in overtime, Brianne Jenner waited out Aerin Frankel and had a wide-open net for what felt like a sure goal, but she rang the post. The camera panned to her once she returned to the bench, and her look of utter dismay said it all. Few could believe she missed that shot, and it was a perfect embodiment of how cursed Ottawa has been in overtime.

With 10.7 seconds remaining in overtime, Daryl Watts sent the puck sailing over the glass, so Boston got a brief power play. They got perhaps their best chance of OT on it, but could not finish

This was the 12th straight game without a power-play goal for Boston. Their most recent one was back on January 24 against Ottawa. 

The final shots in overtime were 27-26 Boston, as they headed to the shootout for the first time this season. Since the penalty would’ve continued had the period gone on longer, Watts was ineligible for the shootout.

As the home team, Boston got to choose when to shoot and they elected to go second. Both Kateřina Mrázová and Brandt scored in round two. Then, Knight got the game-winner in the third round with a deceptive shot to give her team the much-needed extra point.

Overall, this was a highly entertaining game. It was even, fast, physical, and a great showcase of how talented this league is to a new market. Both teams got some excellent chances, and both goaltenders were outstanding. Ottawa’s chances felt just a bit better at teams, with several ringing the crossbar or the post, but Boston was able to hang on and get the win. Boston is now 4-2 in games past regulation, while Ottawa dropped to 0-6.

After the game, Boston head coach Courtney Kessel spoke about her team’s mindset heading into overtime, and how it felt to come out with a win.

“Heading into overtime, it was just making sure we matched their energy, trying to get good changes and catch them tired,” said Kessel. “You saw some back and forth, really huge chances in the three on three, so I think we were lucky to get away into the shootout. Then it was just great to put that away.”

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