Wanna Be The Big Spoon?: Toronto 5, Boston 3
- 5 min read

Wanna Be The Big Spoon?: Toronto 5, Boston 3

Wanna Be The Big Spoon?: Toronto 5, Boston 3 by Nicole Haase

Boston significantly outshot Toronto and fought back a bit in the third, but their defense left Emma Söderberg out to dry too many times early as Natalie Spooner carried her team to a third straight win.

What happened?

It was a fairly even first period as the teams looked to get their feel back after a 10 day break for the Rivalry Series. Toronto grabbed a 1-0 lead with under six in the period thanks to a goal by Sarah Nurse. It was a quick reaction by Nurse on a puck loose in the slot that came as she skated right past Emily Brown and Hilary Knight as Emma Maltais let loose with a shot in transition. The puck didn't make it through and Nurse quickly took a touch and put it past Söderberg.

At the first intermission, it felt like the game was up for grabs. Boston hadn't found the back of the net, but had several great opportunities and it felt like it was a matter of time before they would cash in. But as the midpoint of the game passed and they still hadn't cashed in, the optimism started to wane.

Megan Keller took an interference penalty and the not-particularly-successful Toronto power play held the zone for the entire first 1:15 of the player advantage, though Boston clogged up the lanes and held them to a shot. But as Boston changed their players, it seems they lost track of their assignments. Lauriane Rougeau spotted Spooner hanging out at the blue line alone and fed her a stretch pass, putting Spooner in alone on Söderberg, who she beat to make it 2-0.

There was a scary moment when Allie Munroe squeezed in on Sophie Shirley near the benches. The moment of impact happened just as the glass started back up and Shirley ran into – and bounced off of – the stanchion at the corner of that glass. She was shaken up and did not play again in the game. We wish her a speedy recovery.

Munroe was given a two minute boarding penalty. To add insult to actual injury, just as that power play expired, Sarah Nurse won the puck at the half board and started in the zone without much resistance. She pulled a defender and then dropped the puck for a trailing Spooner. The initial shot was saved, but she cleaned up her own rebound, tucking it around the post where it deflected off Söderberg's skate as she tried to get it to the pipe. That put Toronto up 3-0 heading into the second intermission.

Six minutes into the third, Jamie Lee Rattray got her team on the board with a massive individual effort that started with her carrying the puck the length of the ice. Her dump-in ended up back at her stick in the slot with her back to the goal. She dished it off to Theresa Schafzahl, whose initial shot deflected off Kristen Campbell and off the post. The rebound came back out front and Rattray poked it home to make it 3-1.

Just 84 seconds later, Kali Flanagan let a shot rip from the point that extended Toronto's lead back to three goals, making it 4-1.

Less than a minute after that, Boston scored short-handed, ending a penalty on Rattray thanks to some gritty work by Taylor Girard on the penalty kill. She carried the puck up and then fought off Toronto along the boards. As she came away with the puck, she found Megan Keller alone below the far faceoff dot. Keller's shot was initially saved but Hannah Brandt cleaned up the rebound to make it 4-2.

Courtney Kessel pulled Söderberg with more than three minutes left for the extra attacker, but Toronto hemmed Boston back in the zone. Brandt made a couple of great blocks in front of the net, but Toronto simply had too much time with the puck and an empty net. Spooner finished off her hat trick by gathering a puck from Jesse Compher and ensuring it cleared the post and found the back of the net.

This game was the opposite of the teams' first meeting, where Toronto dominated 32-22 in shots, but lost the game 3-2. Boston outshot Toronto 35-18 in this game, but were served a 5-3 loss.

Three up, three down

↑ Hats off – Natalie Spooner became the first PWHL player to score double-digit goals as her hat trick lifted her to 10 goals and 11 points for the season. She's also now tied with Alex Carpenter for the league lead in points.

↓ Out of position – We don't know why, but Abby Cook did not dress for Boston even though Susanna Tapani started as the top line center in her first game with Boston after the trade, with Sophie Shirley and Jamie Lee Rattray on her wings. That meant Gigi Marvin moved back to defense for the game.

↑ Kali Flanagan – The Burlington, Massachusetts native who played at Boston College and with the PHF's Boston Pride made her first trip home, this time with the visiting team and scored her first PWHL goal in front of the friendly crowd.

↓ Power plays – The teams were a combined 0-for-9 on the power play tonight. Toronto seemed content to move the puck without much intent while Boston had better opportunities, but was less controlled with the puck.

↑ Nonchalance – Natalie Spooner is 33 years old, playing a full time schedule for the first time in awhile and a somewhat new mom. But she's not a all surprised by the year she's having. I asked Spooner about it after the Rivalry Series game on Sunday: "It kind of surprises me actually, that people don't expect me to be playing at this level. I didn't forget how to play hockey, I just had to have a baby. I'm healthy again now. And there's been a good amount of time that has past. I think it was just kind of getting back to the way I was playing last Olympics. I felt great on the ice there. I thought I could make an impact every shift and I'm trying to do the same now."

I honestly love it.

↓ Boston defense – Maybe it's the trade, maybe it's the first game back from a long break. But the defense was lax much of the night. Söderberg simply cannot perform miracles and letting the league's leading goal scorer hang out behind all of your players in the neutral zone and then also let her pick up a stretch pass is simply inexcusable and it wasn't the only breakdown of the night. I believe the offense will be able to shake off the unluckiness and start burying more than they are missing, but the defensive lapses aren't about bad bounces. They have to be more focused and disciplined, particularly because the offense has been a little snake-bit. The hole the team was in by midpoint of the game was the difference in this game.

VP's Player of the Game

Jamie Lee Rattray – She continues to be one of the most underrated players in women's hockey. It's amazing to see her on a top line with Boston. While she's shown the ability to play with anyone and be successful, I hope they can find some consistency in Boston. First the trade and now a possible Shirley injury mean the lines will likely be in flux. Rattray has been eminently adaptable, but I think her game will get even better if she's allowed to build chemistry with consistent linemates. Tonight she showcased her 200-foot game; she is often in on the plays along the boards and in the corners on defense, and then she can start the breakout and lead the offensive charge up the ice.

(Photo: Michael Riley/PWHL Boston)