Take Me Out Tonight: Ottawa 1, Minnesota 2
- 5 min read

Take Me Out Tonight: Ottawa 1, Minnesota 2

Take Me Out Tonight: Ottawa 1, Minnesota 2 by Zoë Hayden

Minnesota had Ottawa over for a Valentine's Day date, and the home team came out on top, rebounding from their 4-1 loss to Toronto before the international break.

What happened?

This was an evenly-played, clean game of hockey from start to finish, and while there were tons of quality scoring opportunities, the only ones that ended up in the back of the net were generated from the offensive blueline.

Ottawa held court early and got the first goal, maintaining possession in the offensive zone and peppering Maddie Rooney with chances. When the puck came to Amanda Boulier, she held onto it and moved to a sharper angle at the top of the circle, beating Rooney through a screen by Becca Gilmore. It was a reminder of how no-nonsense offense can really work, even in this league. It was Boulier's first PWHL goal and it was fitting that it came in Minnesota after her four seasons spent with the Whitecaps in the NWHL/PHF.

Minnesota bounced back quickly, putting a lot of pressure on Maschmeyer at the other end and sustaining pressure for a long stretch, but Daryl Watts and Emily Clark were able to safely carry the puck out of danger without icing. It was an excellent period for both teams, but Ottawa came out on top.

The home team came out flying in the second, though, and drew a frustration penalty on Ottawa's Zoe Boyd for cross-checking. This debuted a new-look power play for Minnesota with Sophie Jaques running the center point atop a 1-3-1 configuration. It paid off immediately, with the unit generating some great movement. Jaques took a big shot that bounced off the end boards and towards the side of the net, where it was picked up briefly by Kelly Pannek before Abby Boreen was able to put it home.

The game would go back-and-forth but remain tied through the rest of the second and early in the third, but Minnesota kept pushing and thwarting Ottawa's zone entries. It was another defender, Maggie Flaherty, who would get the go-ahead goal early in the third. Kendall Coyne Schofield and Boreen protected the puck in the corner, eventually pushing it back to the point to Flaherty. Flaherty shot through some bodies, keeping the puck relatively low, and it found some space between Maschmeyer's pads to the back of the net.

Ottawa played with serious desperation as the period wore on, but were unable to capitalize on a power play opportunity. They spent the last few minutes protecting and cycling with speed in the offensive zone, but a lot of their shots didn't quite make it through to Rooney. Minnesota held on narrowly for the win, and the three points that come with it put them atop the PWHL for the time being.

Three up, three down

↑ Official PWHL stats – The PWHL has started showing an improved play-by-play on their game data pages, which includes a shot chart. The play-by-play includes shots taken, blocked shots, and hits, which are new since the international break.

Shot chart accuracy – Though, at first glance, some of the shot and goal locations don't look entirely accurate – Boulier's goal was shot from closer to the boards than this:

Screenshot of Amanda Boulier shortly after taking her shot that led to her goal. she is near the boards above the circle.
Screenshot of the PWHL's shot tracker showing her goal coming from closer to the middle of the ice.

↑ Abigail Boreen – It was a two-point night for Boreen (1G, 1A), who will go back onto the reserve roster after the conclusion of her 10-day contract. Boreen's situation is similar to a few other players in the PWHL this season – she's currently in pharmacy school which prevents her from joining the team on a regular SPA, but she is available to them on the reserve roster. Minnesota is eligible to sign her to one more 10-day contract per the terms of the PWHL CBA. After that, the PWHLPA would need to approve her joining the team on any other short-term contract – or she would need to join via a regular SPA before the roster freeze date. She's undeniably a major impact player for Minnesota and it's wild that she isn't even technically on the active roster.

↓ Ottawa, in general – They keep going down by the narrowest of margins. This is their fourth straight loss; in that stretch, they've earned just two of twelve possible points in the standings. It's not for lack of trying – their offense has been extremely threatening, including in this game against Minnesota, and Maschmeyer has been stunningly good. This time around, instead of their usual script of giving up a multi-goal lead bit by bit, they finished with a crazy flurry of offensive pressure trying to tie up the game. In a sense, that's kind of an improvement on their previous losses. They can look back at this game and say they played 60 minutes and didn't do anything stupid to let the game get completely away from them. It can be the building blocks of a turnaround. Unfortunately, it's a very short season.

↑ Daryl Watts – Watts is a bit snakebit right now in terms of burying goals, but she's doing so many other things right both with and without the puck that you have to think she'll start getting rewarded more soon. I was particularly impressed with her passing accuracy and defensive zone work in this game – she blocked shots and was driving the breakout.

↓ Injuries for Minnesota – Two Team USA forwards appeared to get injured in Game 7 of the Rivalry Series in St. Paul on Sunday – and only one, Ottawa's Hayley Scamurra, returned to the ice on Wednesday. Minnesota's Taylor Heise is out with an upper-body injury, per the Minnesota Star-Tribune. Heise is not on LTIR but is day-to-day. (Scamurra, who was easily Team USA's best player in the 6-1 trouncing by Canada, doesn't appear to have missed a beat – she led her team with 3 shots.)

VP's Player of the Game

Sophie Jaques – The new acquisition for Minnesota immediately made an impact on the scoresheet, quarterbacking the power play and getting the secondary assist on the tying goal with a rocket of a shot in the second period that went wide but was picked up for rebounds by Pannek and Boreen. She looked comfortable and free on the ice paired with Lee Stecklein and generated quality chances throughout the game.

(Photo: Bjorn Franke/University of Minnesota/PWHL)