RECAP: Boston Pays for Defensive Mistakes, Loses to Montréal 3-1

The loss halts Boston's win streak at two.

RECAP: Boston Pays for Defensive Mistakes, Loses to Montréal 3-1
Hannah Brandt battles for positioning with Sarah Bujold. Photo courtesy of the PWHL.

Boston’s win streak ended at two yesterday, as they lost to Montréal 3-1. Marie-Philip Poulin took center stage, factoring into all three goals, while Elaine Chuli had another strong performance to remain undefeated this season. 

Boston did not have a good start in this one. Montréal had control of the game early on, and it paid off quickly. Just 3:52 into the game, Boston handed Poulin’s rebound right back to her, and she did not waste the opportunity to give Montréal a 1-0 lead. Giving Poulin multiple quality scoring chances is a bad idea on its own, but handing her her own rebound is just plain silly.

However, the goal seemed to wake Boston up a little, and they started spending more time in the offensive zone. But, they still didn’t do a great job of getting quality chances, and Chuli was ready for the few they got. Meanwhile, it seemed as though every Montréal chance turned into a quality one, but luckily for Boston, Aerin Frankel continued her excellent play.

With 31.6 seconds remaining in the first period, Boston got the first power play of the day as Catherine Daoust headed to the sin bin for tripping. However, they couldn’t get much going on it.

The first period ended with Montréal leading 1-0, but Boston holding a slight 11-10 shot advantage.

Boston did not have a much better start to the second period. They didn’t do much with their remaining power play time, and things didn’t get much better after that. 4:50 in, Mélodie Daoust buried a cross-crease Poulin feed, showing that no amount of time apart can disrupt years of chemistry built. 

Two minutes later, Boston headed to their first penalty kill of the day as Abby Cook was called for interference. Luckily, Boston had another strong kill to keep their deficit at two.

After that, there wasn’t much notable for a while. Boston continued to get some chances here and there, but Montréal continued to get better quality ones. Luckily for Boston, Frankel stood tall.

Things finally turned around a bit for Boston late in the period. Alina Müller and Hilary Knight got a 2-on-1, and Müller sent a slick feed over to Knight. Knight then faked a pass back to Müller before firing one past Chuli to bring Boston within one at 14:55 of the period. That’s two goals in three games for Knight, who finally seems to be finding her groove after a slow start to the season.

Montréal got several great chances late in the period, but Frankel made some big saves to keep her team within one, including this one with about 30 seconds left.

The second period ended with Montréal leading 2-1 and outshooting Boston 23-22. Boston did a better job getting to the dirty areas in the second period, but they needed to pick it up more if they hoped to complete the comeback.

The rough starts to the period continued for Boston, who found themselves back in a two-goal deficit just 2:29 in despite outshooting Montréal 4-1 at that point in the third. Poulin carried the puck into the zone and sent Boston scrambling. She sent the puck over to Mariah Keopple, who fired a shot wide of the goal. But, thanks to a well-time pinch from Poulin, the puck was able to make its way to Erin Ambrose, Eventually, who fired home her third of the season from the point to give Montréal the 3-1 lead.

Keopple got the primary assist on the goal, marking her first PWHL point. Meanwhile, Poulin got credit for the secondary assist for her third point of the game. With her three points today, she moved into second place in the league for points, one back of New York's Alex Carpenter. A major theme of this game was Boston’s struggle to contain Poulin, who was all over the ice in this one, and they paid dearly for letting her work her magic.

Boston did not help themselves in the third by getting into penalty trouble. Jamie Lee Rattray headed off for roughing at 4:34 of the third, but Boston was able to come up with another strong kill.

Montréal again got the better chances for most of the period. The PWHL’s online shot tracker said it all, with a whopping seven of Montréal’s 12 shots for the period coming from between the faceoff dots. Meanwhile, Boston had just two from that area.

A screenshot of the PWHL's shot tracker showing the location of each team's third-period shots. Montréal is in blue and most of their shots are near the goal crease, while Boston is in orange and most of their shots are from the perimeter of the rink.
A screenshot of the PWHL's shot tracker showing the location of each team's third-period shots.

Boston got into more penalty trouble late in the third, as Susanna Tapani went off for holding at 15:38. They were able to come up with another strong kill, but just 35 seconds after Tapani exited the box, Jessica DiGirolamo got called for contact to the head. Boston was much more aggressive on this PK and got some offensive chances, but it was too little too late.

Boston dropped this one 3-1 while getting outshot 35-31. They got some chances here and there, but they simply did not do enough to get to the dirty areas necessary to solve Chuli.

As the score shows, this was not Boston’s best game (although it was far from their worst). For large stretches of the game, they played fine. They weren't spectacular by any means, but they continued to show they could hold their own, even against the league's best team. However, they shot themselves in the foot by going back to their old ways with bad starts. Plus, they let Poulin run wild, and if you allow the best player in the world to do her thing, she will make you pay. In the end, Boston simply let Montréal get too many high-danger chances and didn’t get enough at the other end. You’re not going to win games like that very often, especially against a team as good as Montréal.

After the game, head coach Courtney Kessel gave her thoughts to the media.

“I thought it was one of our better team games," said Kessel. "We took a few untimely penalties in the third period that didn’t help us. But overall, some positive things coming out of that game.”