An excellent first period, great goaltending, and solid defense allowed Boston to get back to the win column tonight, as they handed Ottawa their first regulation loss of the season by a final score of 3-2.
The first period was pretty much all Boston. They had plenty of energy right from the start, and while Ottawa managed to get some shots on goal, they weren’t dangerous ones.
Boston got the first power play of the night 8:24 into the period, as Kateřina Mrázová was called for roughing.
Boston wasted little time getting the lead on the power play. Just 14 seconds in, Alina Müller buried her first of the year off a Megan Keller pass. Hannah Brandt did a great job of creating chaos in front of Sandra Abstreiter, and Müller showed excellent patience, waiting until multiple players were screening Abstreiter to take her shot.
Müller’s goal marked the first time Boston scored first this season. It was also just the second time Boston has played with a lead at any point in the game (last week’s game against Toronto was the first).
By the halfway mark of the period, Boston was outshooting Ottawa 9-6, but it felt more dramatic than that. You could tell that Ottawa had just played the night before, and Boston was running circles around them.
Late in the period, Jamie Lee Rattray made the most of her homecoming game as she buried her first of the year to give Boston the 2-0 lead at 17:37. Sophia Shirley and Sidney Morin both assisted on the goal.
The first period ended with Boston leading 2-0 and outshooting Ottawa 12-7. They got the start they wanted in this one, as they thoroughly outplayed Ottawa, and then it became a question of whether they could finally sustain it for a full 60 minutes.
Ottawa looked much better in the second period, and they forced Frankel to make some good saves. But, Boston held steady, and by the halfway mark they were still leading 2-0, and held a slight 16-13 shot advantage.
However, it wasn’t long after that Ottawa started to turn the tide and take over. But Frankel was up to the task until finally, at 15:34 of the period, Kristen Della Rovere managed to sneak one past her off a Natalie Snodgrass pass to bring Ottawa within one. At the time of the goal, Ottawa had overtaken Boston in shots 20-18.
The second period ended with Boston still leading 2-1, but Ottawa was now outshooting them 23-20. Ottawa was the better team in the second period, but Boston did a good job of limiting their grade-A chances, and Frankel came up big when needed.
Early in the third period, Ottawa got their first power play of the game, as Taylor Wenczkowski went off for roughing. There was some discussion among the officials as to whether it should be a major, as Wenczkowski made head contact on the play, but they ultimately settled on just a two-minute minor.
Ottawa took advantage of this opportunity, as Lexis Adzija knocked one past Frankel at 3:46 of the third to tie the game at two. This put an end to Boston’s perfect penalty kill, which was 9-for-9 through the first four games. The goal also continued Adzija’s remarkable season-opening point streak, giving her a point in each of Ottawa’s five games. The assists on the goal went to Brianna Jenner and Amanda Boulier.
A few minutes later, a big scrum in front of Aerin Frankel’s net led to some 4v4 hockey. Gabbie Hughes and Jess Healey received matching roughing minors at 7:24 of the period.
Neither team was able to do anything at 4v4, but after, Ottawa seemed to have all the momentum. They peppered Frankel with shots, and while Boston continued to do a decent job of limiting grade-A chances, she had to make several big saves to keep the game tied.
Then, with less than a minute remaining in the period, Ottawa turned the puck over to Alina Müller (who is one of the last players you want to just hand the puck to), and she fed it to Gigi Marvin. Marvin then sent it over to Theresa Schafzahl, who buried it to give Boston a 3-2 lead with just 51.7 seconds remaining in the game.
Boston hung on after that to become the first team to beat Ottawa in regulation. They beat them by a final of 3-2 despite being outshot 39-31.
Overall, this was a much better game from Boston. Sure, Ottawa was in control of the game for some of the second and most of the third periods, but unlike past games, there wasn’t a time when Boston looked really bad. Ottawa is just also a good team, and it's rare anyone is going to go a full game without giving another good team control for at least a little while. Even when Ottawa was in control, Boston did a reasonably good job of limiting their grade-A chances, and they looked comfortable playing a more defensive game. Frankel also came up big when needed, making 37 saves–a season-high for her.
This should be a good confidence booster for Boston. They finally got to show what they can do when playing with a lead, and while it wasn’t a perfect game, it was a big step in the right direction. They will look to build on that momentum back home on Saturday versus Minnesota, who is fresh off their first regulation loss at the hands of Montréal Wednesday night.