RECAP: Boston's Defensive Lapses Cost Them, as They Lose to Toronto 5-3

Boston's defensive lapses cost them in this game, as they lost to Toronto 5-3

RECAP: Boston's Defensive Lapses Cost Them, as They Lose to Toronto 5-3
Jamie Lee Rattray battles for positioning with Toronto players. Photo by Michael Riley/PWHL Boston.

Boston got plenty of chances but left their goaltender out to dry too many times, and dropped their first game back from the international break 5-3 despite outshooting Toronto by nearly double.

Emma Söderberg got the start for Boston tonight but was not backed up by Aerin Frankel. Instead, Cami Kronish dressed for the first time this season. After the game, head coach Courtney Kessel was asked about it, and she said Frankel is fine and will be practicing but did not elaborate.

Some other notable lineup changes were newly-acquired Finnish forward Susanna Tapani drew in for the first time and started out centering the third line flanked by Jamie Lee Rattray and Sophie Shirley. Abby Cook, who was also part of the trade, did not draw in. Instead, Gigi Marvin was moved back to the defense, which she has also played throughout her career.

"Losing Jaques back there, we figured let's try Gigi," said Kessel after the game. "I think we played her in all these different situations up front, power play, PK, as a center, and you just see how smart she is and her vision and so we're kinda wondering what does that look like on the back end, and that does that give us a little bit more than what we've had."

Moving on to the game, Boston got an early power play, as Jesse Compher was called for tripping just 48 seconds into the game. However, Boston couldn’t get anything going and didn’t even manage to land a shot on goal.

A couple of minutes later, they gave Toronto their first chance on the power play, as Jamie Lee Rattray was called for high-sticking at 5:21. But, like Boston, Toronto’s power play was disjointed, and they also went shotless.

Over the next several minutes, the teams traded some chances, with Boston getting more shots, albeit not super high-quality ones. But ultimately, it was Toronto who struck first, as a Sarah Nurse deflection eluded Söderberg at 14:13 of the first to give Toronto the 1-0 lead. Emma Maltais and Renata Fast got the assists on the goal.

Just about two minutes later, Boston got a chance to even things up on the power play, as Victoria Bach was called for hooking at 16:06. This power play looked better than the first, but they still couldn’t get one past Kristen Campbell.

However, the power play did seem to give Boston some extra jump, and they controlled play for the rest of the period. That said, they still weren’t getting the quality looks you want them to, and ultimately, they went back to the locker room trailing by one despite outshooting Toronto 11-6. According to the new shot tracker on the PWHL website, eight of Boston’s 11 shots that period came from above the circles, which is not really what you want to see.

A map of an ice rink, with 11 blue markers representing Boston shots and 6 orange markers representing Toronto shots. The Boston shots are almost all on the perimeter, while the Toronto shots are largely in the slot.
A screenshot of the shot location data on the PWHL website from the first period.

Boston came out flying in the second period and got several quality chances on Campbell, but she was up to the task. 

At 4:42 of the period, Boston headed to the PK, as Alina Müller was called for body-checking. However, this one would be slightly abbreviated, as Jesse Compher was called for interference at 6:24, so to 4v4 the teams went for 18 seconds.

Boston then got a slightly abbreviated power play of their own, and the top unit got a flurry of great chances, but still couldn’t put one past Campbell.

Then, at 10:17, Megan Keller was called for interference, sending Boston back to the PK. She was understandably upset by the call, as it seemed marginal compared to some of the stuff they’d been letting go.

Unfortunately for Boston, Toronto converted on this one. Following a Boston clear, Lauriane Rougeau sprung Natalie Spooner on a breakaway, and she did not miss the opportunity to extend both Toronto’s lead and her league lead in goals. She made it 2-0 Toronto at 11:49 of the second. Kristen Campbell was also credited with an assist, marking her first PWHL point.

A few minutes later, Toronto’s Allie Munroe put a huge hit on Sophie Shirley, who stayed down on the ice for a bit before heading straight to the locker room with the trainer. Munroe got two minutes for boarding for her troubles, although one could argue it should’ve been more, as that is not a hit you want to see in the game.

Boston got several more chances on the power play, but still couldn’t break Campbell. However, shortly after the penalty expired, Natalie Spooner was able to extend Toronto’s lead again, this time right from the crease following some suspect defense from Boston. Sarah Nurse got the assist on Spooner’s league-leading ninth goal of the season.

The second period ended with Boston trailing 3-0 despite outshooting Toronto 21-12. They did a better job of getting quality shots in the second, but Campbell was outstanding. Meanwhile, Boston left Söderberg hung out to dry with the league’s leading goal scorer twice, and they paid for it.

Early in the third period, Emma Söderberg had to make a huge stop on a Maggie Connors breakaway to keep the deficit at three.

Then, Jamie Lee Rattray scored a gritty rebound goal at 6:04 of the third to cut the deficit to 3-1. Theresa Schafzahl and Megan Keller got the assists on the goal.

However, Toronto quickly responded. Kali Flanagan scored her first of the season in her return to Boston, and restored Toronto’s three-goal lead at 7:28. Emma Maltais got the lone assist on the goal.

Just 21 seconds later, Rattray was called for a trip, so Boston headed back to the PK. However, this one ended up being a lot more fun than the others. 46 seconds in, Hannah Brandt scored a jailbreak goal to bring Boston back within two. Keller and Taylor Girard got the assists on the goal.

Boston then got a huge power play opportunity at 13:56, as Brittany Howard was called for tripping. They got some chances on it but failed to put another past Campbell.

Boston pulled Söderberg with about three minutes remaining. However, Natalie Spooner soon completed the hat trick, as she put on into the empty net at 17:32 to become the first player in PWHL history to reach double-digit goals. Jesse Compher and Emma Maltais got the assists.

Exactly one minute later, Taylor Girard scored to bring Boston back within two.

They pulled Söderberg again soon after, but could not get another past Campbell. They dropped this one by a final of 5-3 despite outshooting Toronto 35-18.

After the game, Kessel was asked whether she liked the quality of her team's shots.

"The first period no," said Kessel. "I think almost everything was perimeter. But I did find that we started to attack that scoring area a lot more in the second and third, and really generate some great opportunities, especially in the third period."

Overall, this was a winnable game for Boston. They outplayed Toronto for most of the game, but they couldn't find the back of the net until it was too late, while Toronto capitalized on Boston's defensive lapses.

Kessel also gave her overall thoughts postgame.

"Disappointed," said Kessel. "I think we had some great opportunities to really put that game away, and I didn't feel like it was the result it should've been with the way the play went, but it happens, I guess."