RECAP: Penalty Trouble Dooms PWHL Boston in Loss to New York

PWHL Boston left valuable points on the table last night, losing to sixth-place New York 3-2.

RECAP: Penalty Trouble Dooms PWHL Boston in Loss to New York
Megan Keller defends a New York player. Photo courtesy of the PWHL

Boston’s playoff hopes took a big hit last night with a 3-2 loss to sixth-place New York. Penalty trouble cost them dearly, with all three goals coming on the power play. They now sit five points back of Ottawa for the final playoff spot with five games remaining.

Boston started the game with some jump, and they forechecked New York hard, forcing five icings in just under six minutes. However, they didn’t put that forecheck to much use, as they didn’t land a shot on goal until the 7:05 mark.

Meanwhile, New York started waking up about five minutes into the game, but particularly after they got the game’s first power play at 7:18 when Gigi Marvin went off for hooking. New York got several good looks, but Frankel and the penalty kill stood tall.

However, after the power play, New York continued to play with more energy, and they got better chances and largely controlled the pace. Boston got a flurry of decent shots in the final two minutes, but otherwise, New York kept them to the perimeter on the rare occasions they had to defend.

With just under 30 seconds remaining in the first, it looked like Boston might get on the board first when Hilary Knight raced down the boards and was about to get a point-blank shot. However, her stick blade went further than the puck, snapping off when she loaded up for the shot.

The first period ended scoreless, with Boston outshooting New York despite New York controlling the game’s pace for most of the period.

The second period began disastrously for Boston. Just 37 seconds in, Megan Keller was sent to the box for hooking, and this time, New York converted. Jade Downie-Landry redirected one past Frankel to give New York a 1-0 lead at 2:12 of the first. Micah Zandee-Hart and Chloe Aurard assisted on the goal.

Things continued to get worse for Boston, as Amanda Pelkey got called for slashing at 4:35. Just over a minute later, Elizabeth Giguère powered one past Aerin Frankel to give New York a 2-0 lead. Downie-Landry and Alex Carpenter assisted on the goal.

However, under a minute later, things looked like they might turn around, as Alina Müller and Jamie Lee Rattray got a 2v1 against Ella Shelton. Müller attempted to make a pass to Rattray, who was crashing the net hard, but it deflected perfectly off Shelton’s stick and past Schroeder to bring Boston back within one at 6:27. Knight and Emily Brown assisted on the goal.

While a funky goal like that theoretically should’ve sparked Boston, it did not. New York continued buzzing in the offensive zone, while Boston didn’t have much. They managed three shots on goal all period, and none felt dangerous.

Boston headed back to the box at 11:50, as Kaleigh Fratkin cross-checked Jill Saulnier (but strangely, the penalty is listed as Müller’s online). New York got a few looks, but Boston killed it off. They later gifted New York another power play with 39 seconds remaining after getting caught with too many players on the ice, but they managed to kill that too.

New York led through 40 minutes 2-1 while outshooting Boston 21-15. It was all New York in the second, and had it not been for Frankel’s terrific play, Boston easily could’ve been in a bigger hole.

Boston started the third period with 1:21 remaining on the penalty kill. Although they killed it, the penalty parade soon continued, as Gigi Marvin returned to the box just over five minutes in, this time for cross-checking. Downie-Landry took the opportunity to bury her second of the night on the power play to give New York a 3-1 lead. Giguère and Aurard assisted on the goal. 

Interestingly, both New York’s goal scorers last night have been at their best against Boston. Giguère, a former Boston Pride player, has two goals and one assist on the season, and all have come against Boston across their past two meetings. Also, five of Downie-Landry’s six goals this season have come across just two of their meetings, and in total, she has tallied seven of her ten points against Boston.

A few minutes later, Sophie Shirley brought Boston back within one off a terrific play. She skated down the ice 1v1 against Taylor Baker, and used her as a screen while sniping a beautiful shot past Schroeder at 10:15. Lexie Adzija got the primary assist on the goal, which is her first Boston point since arriving at the trade deadline. Megan Keller got the secondary assist.

Boston then got a couple of great chances over the next several minutes as they showed desperation to tie the game. One of those chances resulted in what felt like a must-score power play. Schroeder made a massive save on Knight following a sweet Brandt pass, but Abby Roque cross-checked Brandt after and headed to the box at 14:45.

However, Boston’s power play woes continued, and they couldn’t get the equalizer. Instead, the best chance on the power play came from New York, who somehow got a 3v1. But luckily for Boston, Sidney Morin made an excellent defensive play to prevent the jailbreak goal.

Boston pulled Frankel for the extra attacker with about 1:30 remaining, but they couldn’t beat Schroeder again. New York snapped their losing streak at seven as they earned their first home regulation win of the season, and first regulation win in over two months. They also outshot Boston 34-31 in the game, tying their previous season high. 

Overall, Boston paid dearly for their undisciplined play. That said, New York did a much better job of possessing the puck and controlling the pace of play throughout the game. So, while all three goals came on the power play, they earned the win through more than just special teams. 

After the game, Müller spoke to the media about her team’s discipline, and how the team moves forward from a loss like this.

“We need to play smarter,” said Müller. “Today we had too many penalties. We have a great group in the locker room, all of us players believe in each other. We’re a tight group, we’re going to get through this.”

This was an extremely damaging loss for Boston. Given how much better Ottawa has looked lately, making up five points with just five games and only one head-to-head match-up left will be extremely tough, albeit not impossible. After the game, head coach Courtney Kessel gave her thoughts on her team’s playoff outlook. 

“The three teams in the bottom are wanting more wins and I think we’re battling,” said Kessel. “The parity across this league is tremendous. Ottawa plays Toronto, the top seed, and they win. Anyone can win on any given night. Especially New York and us, we’re struggling right now to win, and I think our players are gripping their sticks a little tighter than they normally do.”

The PWHL is now on pause, as they take a break for the IIHF Women’s World Championships, which take place from April 3-14 in Utica, NY. PWHL games resume on Thursday, April 18 when Boston takes on Toronto at home at 7 p.m. EDT.