PWHL RECAP: Boston Pushes Montréal to the Brink with Triple Overtime Win

Taylor Wenczkowski and the fourth line pushed Boston past Montréal in Game 2.

PWHL RECAP: Boston Pushes Montréal to the Brink with Triple Overtime Win
Taylor Wenczkowski scores in triple overtime. Photo courtesy of the PWHL.

Taylor Wenczkowski potted the game-winner in triple overtime as Boston’s fourth line powered them to a 2-1 victory and a 2-0 series lead. Aerin Frankel also continued her otherworldly play, breaking the PWHL save record she set in Game 1 (54) with 56.

Boston started the first period a little slower, but then Amanda Pelkey started the scoring 6:48 in with a funky bank shot from behind the goal line.

The goal was the shot in the arm Boston needed. They took control, and through the rest of the period, they tallied eight shots while allowing Montréal only one more around the halfway mark. It helped Boston got the period’s only power play, although they only managed one shot on it. Boston returned to the locker room leading 1-0 while outshooting Montréal 10-5. 

Montréal came out stronger to start the second, and it earned them a power play just 37 seconds in as Megan Keller went off for roughing. Their power play stayed red-hot, as Kristin O’Neill buried her second playoff goal to tie the game at one.

Montréal's goal brought them to life. They started consistently getting to the dangerous areas of the ice and forced Frankel to make several big saves. Boston still got some chances, but most of their shots came from the perimeter. They also had to deal with Keller disappearing down the tunnel for several minutes, and then her still laboring from an apparent upper-body injury when she returned. Still, through 40 minutes, Boston held a slight 22-20 shot advantage.

Lexie Adzija got a delayed tripping penalty in the dying seconds of the second, so Boston kicked off the third with a full penalty kill. This allowed Montréal to keep building momentum. They remained in the driver’s seat all period, limiting Boston to four perimeter shots while pouring on 11 of their own, including four from just outside the crease.

With 30 seconds left, we got the game’s first controversy. Mélodie Daoust thought she scored during a chaotic net-front scrum, but the referee waived it off immediately. It was then subject to a lengthy review, after which the no-goal call was confirmed since the officials said there was intent to blow the whistle before the puck went in.

While complicated, this appears to have been the right call. The puck was fully underneath Frankel for a good chunk of time, and the only reason it leaked through was that Daoust shoved it out from under her. "Intent to blow the whistle” is always a weird reason to call off a goal, but the referee legitimately should have blown the play dead long before the goal happened.

Thanks to the disallowed goal, three periods would again not be enough to settle things. Montréal held a 31-26 shot advantage as we headed into the first overtime still all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, blissfully unaware of what was still to come.

Boston came out strong, but at 6:20, things turned highly controversial again. After a lengthy review, Adzija was given a match penalty for intent to injure. She was ejected and per Rule 21.2, she is automatically suspended until the Hockey Operations Officer on any supplemental discipline.

How the officials determined there was intent to injure on this play remains beyond me. Adzija seems to make a little contact with Stacey’s face mask, but at best, it should’ve been two minutes. Alas, what I think doesn’t matter, so Boston had to kill off a five-minute penalty and lost Adzija for the rest of the game.

Luckily for Boston, Frankel and the penalty killers came up huge and limited Montréal to just two shots in those five minutes. They then came up with another massive kill several minutes later, as Keller sailed the puck over the glass and had to sit for delay of game. 

For the first time in PWHL history, a game headed to double overtime. Montréal led 43-34 in shots through four periods.

Boston kicked off the next frame on a power play, as Mélodie Daoust got two for roughing at the buzzer. However, their power play woes against Montréal continued.

Bench management started to come into play in the second overtime. Boston had better and more frequent looks, which can be at least partially attributed to how the coaches deployed their benches. Kori Cheverie rode her top line and pairing hard (especially Erin Ambrose) while benching her fourth line and bottom pairing early in the game. Meanwhile, Kessel used her whole bench more, with only seventh defender Abby Cook not seeing the ice. The fourth line didn’t see much ice time, but it was enough to keep the whole bench fresher, and it showed. 

We got another goal review late, as the officials checked to see if Hannah Brandt had ended it with 34.9 seconds remaining. Much less controversially, it was ruled she did not, so to the third overtime we went with Montréal leading 50-45 in shots.

Throughout the fourth intermission, shots of the crowd napping encapsulated most spectators' feelings. The players didn't appear far off either, as the pace of play had slowed significantly since regulation time ended.

Just over seven minutes in, Montréal nearly ended the game, but the puck rolled mere inches wide.

Minutes later, Boston’s fourth line struck again. Wenczkowski mercifully ended the game at the 111:44 mark with her first PWHL goal, shoveling it past Ann-Renée Desbiens to push Montréal to the brink of elimination. The final shots were 57-52 Montréal.

After the game, Wenczkowski kept it short and sweet when describing her first goal.

“It was great,” said Wenczkowski. “It was awesome. I was so happy to end it and go back to Boston with two wins.”

Overall, this was a stronger effort from Boston than in Game 1. Frankel still had to come up big several times, but the rest of the team put up a much better fight. They controlled parts of the game and when Montréal surged, Frankel didn't have to make as many mind-blowing saves. 

Ultimately, Boston’s depth made all the difference while Montréal refused to use theirs. Ambrose crossed a ridiculous 60 minutes and four other Montréal players topped 50 minutes while Hilary Knight led Boston with 49:23.

With the stars largely neutralizing each other at even strength so far this series, both coaches have to be willing to trust their depth players. They don’t have to play much, but in long, close games, even a few minutes of fresh legs can be all the difference. Boston proved that tonight.

After the game, Kessel spoke about playing in such a tight series.

“We knew this was going to happen with Montréal,” said Kessel. “I think we battled [Montréal] all year and what a tremendous effort by every single athlete out there. It takes a lot to basically play two games of hockey and luckily we came out on the better side of that.”

The series continues Tuesday at 7 p.m. EDT, as Boston hopes to close out the series at home at the Tsongas Center in Lowell, MA.