PWHL RECAP: Brandt Beats Buzzer to Keep Boston's Playoff Hopes Alive

The win keeps Boston's playoff hopes alive for another day.

PWHL RECAP: Brandt Beats Buzzer to Keep Boston's Playoff Hopes Alive
Hannah Brandt celebrates with Emma Söderberg postgame. Photo by Kelly Hagenson/PWHL.

Hannah Brandt scored a buzzer-beater goal to lift Boston past Minnesota on April 27th and keep her team’s playoff hopes alive for another day. Meanwhile, the regulation loss kept Minnesota one point away from clinching their spot in the postseason.

The first half of the first period was relatively uneventful. Boston headed to the PK early as Kaleigh Fratkin got called for body-checking at 4:18. However, Boston came up with a strong kill and only allowed one shot.

Shortly after the halfway mark, a chaotic sequence broke out in front of Emma Söderberg. It started with a big hit along the boards by Boston, and then the puck squeaked out front as bodies and sticks flew while Söderberg made a big save amid traffic.

Minnesota picked up their game over the second half but Söderberg stood tall. So, the first period ended scoreless while Minnesota help a 12-6 shot advantage. Boston struggled to get much sustained offensive zone time and it showed in their low shot quality.

Fratkin sent Boston back to the PK early in the second when she was called for hooking less than two minutes in. Luckily for Boston, they came up with another strong kill. 

A few minutes later, Taylor Girard appeared to get her skate stuck in the ice along the Boston bench, and she went down in a heap of pain. She was helped off the ice by trainers and did not return. There was no update on her condition postgame.

Minnesota continued to be the better team throughout the period, but Söderberg kept her team in it. However, with less than two minutes left, Minnesota finally broke through. Michela Cava found Kendall Coyne Schofield in the left circle, and she ripped a shot on net, which was saved by Söderberg albeit with a rebound. Kelly Pannek was parked right out front, and she found the rebound first and poked it in. 

The second period finished with Minnesota leading 1-0 and outshooting Boston 24-12. Söderberg was again outstanding, but she was bound to break eventually under the intense Minnesota pressure. Meanwhile, Boston continued to struggle to get sustained offensive zone time, let alone lots of quality shots.

In the third, it was Minnesota who headed to the box early, as Denisa Křížová got called for tripping just 55 seconds in. While Boston's power play has struggled for most of the season, they made the most of this opportunity. Alina Müller managed to bury one less than a minute later to tie the game at one. Megan Keller and Susanna Tapani assisted on the goal.

A few minutes later, Söderberg made a massive save after a brutal turnover at the Boston defensive line. Cava ended up in all alone, but luckily for Boston, Söderberg stoned her. 

However, other than that, the third period was nearly all Boston. They finally set up in the offensive zone and poured shots on Hensley, who was stellar. They were rewarded with another power play over eight minutes in, as Emma Greco went off for roughing. They landed a few more shots on goal, but Minnesota managed to kill it off.

After the power play, Boston kept the pressure up. They only allowed one other grade-A opportunity off a Sophie Jaques point shot. The rebound ended up in the crease with a Minnesota player nearby, but luckily for Boston, Söderberg found it first and whacked it out of danger.

Boston had to come up with a huge kill with less than four minutes left in the game after Sophie Shirley took a high-sticking penalty. Luckily for them, the penalty kill remained strong and only allowed two shots from the perimeter.

Boston got another flurry of chances near the end of the period, but the game appeared headed for overtime. However, with time winding down, Brandt and Hilary Knight headed down the ice for one final rush. Knight took the puck over to the boards, sucking the Minnesota defender with her. Brandt got around her defender and was streaking in alone as Knight fed her the puck. With 2.7 seconds remaining, she snapped it over Hensley to secure a massive three points for Boston. The final shots were 32-30 Minnesota.

Overall, this was not Boston's best game. They were outplayed for two periods, but Söderberg was fantastic to keep them in it until they turned it on in the third. The regulation win, combined with Ottawa’s regulation loss earlier in the day, leaves Boston’s magic number at three to be eliminated from the playoff race. They do not play again until Saturday, while Ottawa takes on New York on Tuesday. So, all eyes turn to that game to see if Boston will live to fight another day.

After the game, head coach Courtney Kessel spoke about what was going through her mind at the time of Brandt’s goal, and emphasized how pleased she was with her team’s third period. 

“I felt like we were getting ready for 3-on-3, but I just feel like we had a tremendous third period,” said Kessel. “We came out, we owned them. The shots were 12-24 heading into the third period and the way we ended was pretty incredible. I feel like we earned that 2.7-second-left goal.”

An elated Brandt also spoke to the media about her team’s resilience and what the win means to them.

“It really hasn't sunk in yet, but we needed that win so bad for our team,” said Brandt. “It felt good to come out on top in obviously a little bit of a nail-biter. Our team never gave up and I'm so proud of us for that. The third period was one of our best periods I think so far and Emma [Söderberg] kept us in there. She did amazing and gave us a chance to get the win at the end.”