RECAP: Boston's Offensive Woes Persist in 3-1 Loss to Toronto

Boston's offensive woes and lack of urgency persisted against Toronto.

RECAP: Boston's Offensive Woes Persist in 3-1 Loss to Toronto
Gigi Marvin and Jesse Compher hunt the puck. Photo by Alex D'Addese/PWHL.

A lack of urgency from puck drops killed Boston again, as they dropped their game March 7th 3-1 to Toronto, who has now won eight straight games.

Another game, another goal given up in the first five minutes of a period. Just 3:25 in, Allie Munroe scored her first of the season to give Toronto the early lead. Sarah Nurse and Natalie Spooner assisted on the goal.

The goal aside, Toronto simply outplayed Boston significantly at the start of this one. Through five minutes, shots were 4-1 Toronto.

Boston got the first chance at a power play this game, as Toronto was caught with too many players on the ice at 7:28 of the first. Brittany Howard served the penalty. However, Boston couldn’t get anything going on the power play and didn’t land a shot on goal.

The next several minutes were largely uneventful. Boston managed to land a couple of shots on goal, but nothing dangerous.

Finally, Boston turned the puck over at their blue line and allowed Natalie Spooner to get free, neither of which was a good idea. Spooner made them pay for it, burying her 12th of the season to extend both Toronto’s lead and her league lead for goals.

The first period ended with Boston down 2-0 and outshot 6-5. They came out flat and they paid for it.

The second period did not start much better for Boston. Susanna Tapani got one good chance less than 30 seconds in, but then Boston quickly gave control back to Toronto. Through five minutes, they were outshot 6-1.

Toronto remained in control throughout the period. Boston managed a shot here and there, but they again failed to get anything dangerous.

Boston got a second power play opportunity at 14:04 of the second, as Blayre Turnbull got two minutes for a check to the head. This time, they managed to get one shot on goal, but overall it didn’t look much better.

Shortly after the penalty expired, Maggie Connors went bar-down to give Toronto a 3-0 lead at 16:34. Renata Fast and Turnbull got the assists.

The second period ended with Boston trailing 3-0 and outshot 18-11. They continued to lack the urgency you expect to see when a team trails by three goals, and things looked grim.

Emma Söderberg replaced Aerin Frankel in goal to start the third period. It was certainly not Frankel’s best performance, but the score was also far from just her fault. So, this seemed to be a move aimed more at waking the rest of the team up than anything else. 

It worked. Boston had a much better third period and finally played with a sense of urgency. They still didn’t start landing a lot of shots of goal until the midway mark of the period, but their overall play improved.

About 11 minutes in, Jessica DiGirolamo nearly pulled off a highlight-reel goal to get Boston on the board, putting the puck through Kali Flangan’s legs, but she couldn’t finish it.

A few minutes later, Jess Healey got her first goal of the PWHL, going bar-down to spoil Kristen Campbel’’s shutout at 14:25 of the third. Taylor Girard assisted on the goal. The goal came on a delayed penalty, although it happened so quickly that Boston had yet to get Söderberg off for the extra skater.

With just over three minutes remaining, Boston pulled Söderberg for the extra attacker. However, it didn’t last long. Healey and Spooner got into a heated race for the puck, and Healey took Spooner down. She headed to the box for hooking at 17:03, and while in a sense it was a good penalty to take because Spooner would’ve scored, it certainly wasn’t helpful to Boston. A big scrum broke out after the whistle, and Jamie Lee Rattray and Munroe got matching minors for roughing. 

Boston got a few early opportunities at a jailbreak goal but then shot themselves in the shot again. Sarah Nurse baited Megan Keller into taking an interference penalty at 17:59, putting Toronto on a 5v3.

Toronto got several shots during the 5v3, but Emma Söderberg stood tall. Overall, she was excellent last night. It's not easy not playing a game for weeks and then having to go in after sitting on the bench for 40 minutes, but she rose to the occasion.

Emma Söderberg makes a save against Toronto. The puck is in her chest. She is wearing a white away uniform and her green Boston gear and mask.
Emma Söderberg makes a save against Toronto. Photo by Alex D'Addese/PWHL.

With 13 seconds remaining, Hannah Miller got sent to the box for boarding, ending their power play. Boston pulled Söderberg to give themselves a 5v4 advantage, but it was too little, too late. They lost by a final of 3-1 while being outshot 29-23.

Overall, this was another frustrating showing from Boston. Despite all the talent up front, they were pitiful offensively through 40 minutes and didn’t bring a sense of urgency until it was too late. Boston now sits nine points back of third-place Minnesota (who is tied with Toronto in points while having played an extra game) with two games in hand and just one point ahead of fifth-place Ottawa with one game in hand. 

After the game, head coach Courtney Kessel shared with the media her frustrations about her team continuing to lack urgency at puck drop.

“I think we’re seeing the same thing over and over again,” said Kessel. “We’re waiting until we’re down to play with urgency and that’s not going to work in this league. We need to see it consistently for 60 minutes.”