Largely thanks to Emma Söderberg and their penalty kill, Boston overcame a slow start tonight to win their first game in regulation, 3-2 over Toronto.
Boston did not start this game well. They came out flat-footed, and it quickly cost them. Just 3:05 into the game, Megan Keller hooked Sarah Nurse, who was on a partial breakaway, sending Boston to an early PK. Luckily for Boston, Toronto couldn't get much going on the power play and did not convert.
However, it wasn’t long before they gave Toronto another crack at the power play. 6:26 into the period, Hannah Brandt tripped Sarah Nurse, and Boston went back to the PK.
Luckily for Boston, they have a great PK and Toronto’s power play is still finding its legs, so they killed this one off too. However, not even a minute later, Hannah Miller scored a baseball goal, batting a wacky bounce out of the air and past Söderberg to give Toronto a 1-0 lead. This marked the first time that Toronto scored first in a game and the first time they scored in the opening period.
Boston started to pick up the pace a little bit towards the end of the period, but ultimately went back to the locker room down 1-0 and outshot 10-3.
Things did not go any better for Boston to kick off the first period. Just 1:03 in, Hilary Knight was called for elbowing, sending Boston to another early PK. Luckily for Boston, their PK stayed solid.
Just before the end of the Boston penalty, Renata Fast was whistled for roughing, and Boston got their first power play of the night following five seconds of 4v4 play. Unfortunately for Boston, their power play didn’t look any better than Toronto’s, and they were also unable to convert.
Not even halfway through the game, Boston was sent to the box for the fourth time, as Kaleigh Fratkin was called for interference at 6:32.
Boston managed to kill off yet another penalty, but they still didn’t have much life. Toronto continued to get the better of the chances for the next several minutes, and Söderberg had to keep coming up big to keep Boston in the game.
After one particularly big sequence from Söderberg, Alina Müller was able to break the puck out. She took off towards the other end with Loren Gabel, who sniped one top shelf off a nice feed from Müller to tie the game at 13:28 into the period.
That goal finally gave Boston some life, and they started to look a bit better. They managed to land a few more shots on the net, but Toronto still got some chances too.
Towards the end of the period, Müller was streaking towards the Toronto zone and made some beautiful plays to keep puck possession despite defensive pressure. She then managed to feed the puck to Keller, who sent a bomb home over Campbell’s shoulder to give Boston the 2-1 lead late in the period. Gabel also got an assist on the goal.
Boston headed back to the locker room with a 2-1 lead despite being outshot 18-9. Heading into the third, they needed to clean up those penalties and focus on getting some more shots on Campbell, who was looking beatable. But, largely thanks to Söderberg, they found a way to get the lead in a game where they really weren’t playing their best hockey.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Boston headed to the PK early in the period. Nicole Kosta was called for hooking at 2:52 of the period. Toronto got a few good chances this time around, but they were still unable to convert.
This was the end of the penalty parade for Boston, but suffice it to say they are lucky Toronto's power play is not good. Taking five penalties in just over 40 minutes is often a recipe for disaster, and Boston needs to be better about taking penalties going forward.
Despite not converting on the power play, Toronto continued to get a lot more chances than Boston, and no matter how good Söderberg was playing, that was bound to catch up to them eventually. 7:45 into the period, Hannah Miller put home another funky bounce following a bad turnover by Boston to tie the game at two. At that point, Toronto was outshooting Boston 8-1 in the period.
Following the tying goal, Boston rallied. Over the next eight minutes, they outshot Toronto 9-4, and got several quality chances on Campbell. They still weren’t dominant, but it finally felt like they were controlling the play instead of just capitalizing off the few chances they got.
All of this came to a head with less than two minutes left in the game. Müller and Gabel showed off their chemistry, as they combined for another beautiful play that ended in Gabel roofing the puck to give Boston a late 3-2 lead.
35 seconds later, Toronto pulled Campbell for the extra attacker. They then took a timeout with under a minute remaining. However, it wasn’t enough, and Boston took the game in regulation despite being outshot 32-22, leaving Toronto still winless at home.
Overall, this was not Boston’s best performace. Their penalty kill and Emma Söderberg kept them in it until they started to find their game, and then they found a way to win. That’s an important lesson to learn early in the season, as no team can have their best night in and night out.
Boston will be back in action at home on Saturday, as they face off against New York at 12:30 p.m. EST.