RECAP: Boston Falls Flat in Shutout Loss to Minnesota

Boston lacked urgency in the game and now sits in fifth place in the standings.

RECAP: Boston Falls Flat in Shutout Loss to Minnesota
Jamie Lee Rattray calls for the puck against Minnesota. Photo by Kelly Hagenson/PWHL.

Boston came out flat and lacked urgency throughout their shutout loss to Minnesota yesterday. They now sit in fifth place in the standings, tied with Ottawa with 20 points but losing the tiebreaker with one less regulation win.

Overall, this was a low-event game with little to report, especially through the first two periods. Boston got the first power play at 9:39 of the first period, as former PWHL Boston player Sophie Jaques got called for tripping. The second unit managed to get two shots on goal at the tail end of the power play, but outside of that, they couldnโ€™t get much going as Bostonโ€™s power play woes continued. Their power play ranks sixth in the league at a paltry 5.4% success rate, having scored just two goals all season.

Minnesota picked up the pace towards the end of the period, and they got rewarded. At 18:12 of the first, Kendall Coyne Schofield ripped home a Taylor Heise feed following a Boston turnover, and it was 1-0 Minnesota. Natalie Buchbinder also got an assist on the goal.

Minnesota led 1-0 after 20, while Boston held a slight 7-5 shot advantage. Overall, it was a fairly even period, with neither team having much jump at the start. Boston got more shots on goal earlier, but few were dangerous. Meanwhile, Minnesota got rewarded for picking up the pace in the final five minutes.

Things got worse for Boston during the second period. Michela Cava made it 2-0 Minnesota at 6:43 of the second off a bad angle shot that squeaked between Aerin Frankel and the post. Jaques and Coyne Schofield assisted on the goal. At that point, Boston had yet to land a shot on goal in the period.

Boston finally managed to get their first shot of the period around 10:30 in, and they started to show a few more signs of life in the back half. However, it still wasnโ€™t at the level of urgency youโ€™d expect given they were trailing by two in a game where the points would be a big boost to their playoff hopes.

With 34.9 seconds remaining, Susanna Tapani headed to the box for holding, sending Boston to their first penalty kill of the night. Luckily for Boston, Minnesota couldnโ€™t get anything going on it. 

Boston headed back to the locker room down 2-0 despite still holding a slight 12-11 shot advantage. They needed to come out with a lot more urgency in the third period if they hoped to crawl back into the game.

Boston started the third with 1:27 left on the penalty kill, which Minnesota failed to land a shot on goal during. However, Frankel was busy for a few minutes after that, and she had to come up with a couple of big saves to keep her team within two. After one of them about 3:30 in, a small scrum broke out between Sophie Shirley and Coyne Schofield after Coyne Schofield dug at the puck after the whistle.

Boston headed back to the PK at 13:56 of the period, as Jessica DiGirolamo got called for kneeing. This time, Minnesota did manage to capitalize. Grace Zumwinkle fired home a shot about 30 seconds later to make it 3-0 Minnesota. Maggie Flaherty and Kelly Pannek got the assists on the goal.

Head coach Courtney Kessel aggressively pulled Frankel at 15:38, but unfortunately, it didnโ€™t help much. Boston finally got sustained zone time and offensive zone puck possession, but then they iced the puck with a little over 2:30 remaining. They couldnโ€™t recover from that, and at 17:57, Heise sealed the game for her team with an empty net goal following a blocked shot. Boston dropped this one by a final of 4-0, and the final shots were 24-20 Minnesota.

Overall, this was not a good game from Boston. The game was not as uneven as the score shows, and Boston did some things right. However, Boston played flat for most of the game and never seemed to have much to give. They let Minnesota get too many good chances despite the low shot total while managing few of their own. That's not a recipe for success, especially when going up against one of the best goalies in the world, Nicole Hensley, who was great the few times she was called upon en route to her first PWHL shutout.

After the game, Kessel shared her frustration with her teamโ€™s lack of offensive punch tonight.

โ€œWe simply didnโ€™t do enough things right on the ice to put pucks in the net and score points,โ€ said Kessel. โ€œWe need to play complete games going forward and show up while weโ€™re on the road. There were low shots on goal for both teams, but we have to find ways to score.โ€