(Photo: Melissa Burgess)
The Buffalo Beauts went 0-for-7 on the power play Sunday afternoon as they fell in overtime to the Connecticut Whale, 3-2.
The Beauts and Whale are now finished with their regular-season series, having played six times. Connecticut took all six meetings -- though many of the games were closely-matched contests, with two decided in a shootout and Sunday's in overtime.
Through the six games, the Whale outscored Buffalo 26-17. Four of the meetings were decided by one goal.
Through 15 games, the NWHL standings are now as follows: the Connecticut Whale have moved into first place, edging out the Boston Pride by just a single point (24 to 23).
Meanwhile, the Beauts remain in third place with 11 points (4-8-0-3) on the season, while the New York Riveters are last with eight points (3-10-0-2).
Backed by a strong performance by goaltender Brianne McLaughlin, the Beauts played a strong game, but were ultimately unable to outwork the Whale.
Alyssa Wohlfeiler opened the scoring with under two minutes to play in the first period, taking a cross-crease feed from Micaela Long to bury it behind McLaughlin and putting the Whale on the board just after a power play expired.
The Beauts were struggling and clearly missed the presence of leading scorer Kelley Steadman, as they were outshot 11-2 by the Whale in the first period.
Despite their early struggles, with the Whale potting one late in the first, the Beauts were able to make a quick comeback. Shelby Bram tied the game just 1:11 into the second period, deflecting a shot from up high by Kelly McDonald past netminder Shenae Lundberg.
Just over six minutes later, the Beauts would take the lead on a shorthanded goal by Hannah McGowan, who was able to convert on a 2-on-1 pass from Hayley Williams, even as the Whale's Kelly Babstock was able to get back and defend on the play. The goal marked McGowan's first in the NWHL.
The Beauts would hold the lead, but as the second period came to a close, they once again allowed the Whale to score late, as Kate Buesser made it 2-2 with under two minutes to play in the middle frame. Kelli Stack set her up by taking the puck deep below the goal line and feeding Buesser as she drove the net for a virtual layup.
Despite three power-play opportunities in the third period (including one that carried over into the overtime period), the Beauts ultimately fell as Molly Engstrom struck in the extra frame, picking up a rebound from the bottom of the left circle and rocketing it past McLaughlin.
McLaughlin had 33 saves for the Beauts, while Shenae Lundberg stopped 20 of 22 shots faced in her first win with her new team —- and her first NWHL victory.
The Beauts have just three games remaining in the regular season. They'll close out their road schedule next week, visiting the New York Riveters for a Valentine's Day matchup.
The Beauts end their season at home, as they'll host both the Riveters and the Pride on the last two Sundays of the month.
Game stats: NWHL.HockeyShift.com.