Statement Game: Ottawa 4, Boston 2
- 5 min read

Statement Game: Ottawa 4, Boston 2

Statement Game: Ottawa 4, Boston 2 by Zoë Hayden

Ottawa snapped their losing streak in Lowell, but PWHL Boston extended theirs. While Ottawa still doesn't technically have a win in any one-goal contest, this game was a one-goal game late – and Ottawa finished the job.

What happened?

Ottawa got on the board first, turning a defensive zone faceoff into a goal. Kateřina Mrázová won the faceoff back and Aneta Tejralová immediately turned the puck around, feeding Daryl Watts along the boards. Watts was able to get around Boston's Jessica Digirolamo and create a 2-on-1 chance with Brianne Jenner. Jenner passed it back to Watts who was able to beat Aerin Frankel and make it 1-0.

Boston tied it up early in the second with Taylor Girard's team-leading fourth of the season, but it was an unfortunate situation for goaltender Emerance Maschmeyer. On the sequence, Zoe Boyd tripped up Loren Gabel and both players went crashing into Maschmeyer and completely dislodged the net. The net was well off its moorings, but the puck was on Girard's stick and she fired it into the net.

Both the NHL and PWHL rulebooks are essentially the same regarding what happens when the net is dislodged from its posts by actions of a defending player during a scoring opportunity. (We are allowing that Zoe Boyd was ultimately responsible for the net coming off.) The PWHL official rulebook, Rule 65.7 on "Awarded Goals" states:

In the event that the goal post is displaced, either deliberately or accidentally, by a defending player, prior to the puck crossing the goal line between the normal position of the goalposts, the Referee may award a goal. In order to award a goal in this situation, the goal post must have been displaced by the actions of a defending player, the attacking player must have an imminent scoring opportunity prior to the goal post being displaced, and it must be determined that the puck would have entered the net between the normal position of the goal posts.

It seems that the ruling was that Girard had an imminent scoring opportunity and would have scored into the net had it remained on its posts – even though she didn't actually get a shot off until well after the net was dislodged. It was a tough call to swallow for Ottawa – but luckily, thanks to Gabbie Hughes, it didn't ultimately affect the outcome of the game.

Late in the second period on the power play, Ottawa had failed to convert on a 5-on-3 opportunity but still had some regular power play time remaining. Harmon fed a long pass ahead to Emily Clark, who charged into the zone and went behind the net. Gabbie Hughes quietly worked her way into the slot and was able to take the pass from Clark, and patiently held on to her shot to get Frankel moving. When she finally took her shot, Frankel was out of position and it was 2-1 Ottawa.

About a minute later, Abby Cook got her first with Boston since being traded on a shot from the point with multiple players screening Maschmeyer, and it was 2-2.

But in the final minute of the second, with Boston on the power play, Hughes struck again. After having cleared the puck back to Boston's zone, Clark and Hughes executed some great aggressive forechecking. Clark stripped Gabel of the puck along the boards and threw it out front, where Hughes got a shot off while falling down to give Ottawa the lead and jailbreak her teammate Mrázová who was in the box for boarding.

The third period was relatively even, and both teams got some opportunities but neither really converted. Boston pulled Frankel with 1:49 remaining, and while Megan Keller got a few shots off, one was saved and one was blocked by Hughes. Jenner got the puck and didn't miss on a long shot for the insurance marker.

Boston lost their fourth straight, and Ottawa snapped a 5-game skid. The teams rematch again on Wednesday in Lowell.

Three up, three down

↑ Finishing – Ottawa finally put an opponent away in a close game. After losing five straight one-goal contests, including two in overtime, and going 0-7 on the season in one-goal games, this was a relief for Carla MacLeod's team.

↓ Boston, down low – Boston will succeed best when they can work down below the goal line and generate second opportunities, and they just weren't able to do that much on Monday. A lot of their shots came from distance or were high shots, and Maschmeyer was stopping everything she could see. A long goal through a multiple-player screen and a crash-the-net tally on a technicality won't get Boston much in the win column. Whereas Ottawa was sitting at the bottom of the league and seemed to have the game plan necessary to generate more goals, Boston doesn't seem to be quite there yet.

↑ Kateřina Mrázová, in the faceoff circle and on the second line – Mrázová is on a three-game streak of averaging 60% or better in the dot. In this game, her faceoff wins directly helped Ottawa drive possession and led to their opening goal. This was her second game centering a line with Watts and Jenner and it's looking like a successful experiment so far.

↓ Ottawa releasing Mikyla Grant-Mentis – Before the game on Monday, it was officially announced that Ottawa had released Miklya Grant-Mentis from a 1-year contract. Grant-Mentis had not played since January 27 and had been a healthy scratch since then, even though she had 3 assists and was averaging 2 shots per game over 6 contests. Ottawa is the only team so far that has released players from SPAs during the season without singing them to reserve spots – though it's unclear why that is. It seems like a bad look to not give more quality ice time to the former PHF MVP who was contributing offensively. Grant-Mentis is now a free agent and could be an asset to any PWHL team.

↑ Competitiveness at the bottom – The bottom three spots in the standings are all within 1 point of each other. It seems like all of the standings could be in flux until the very end of the season, just as the hockey gods intended. Any team that can win a couple games in regulation has the chance of completely changing their fortunes. Only the top four teams will make the playoffs, and right now every single team has a chance to be in that group.

↓ TOI – We're still waiting for player TOI and shift data on the PWHL official website.

VP's Player of the Game

Emily Clark – She set up both of Hughes' goals – on the power play and the penalty kill. Clark is a truly versatile forward who is valuable to have on the ice in any offensive or defensive situation and she's been one of the steadiest players amid Ottawa's losing streak. This time she got rewarded with a couple of very high-quality assists after having Ottawa's only goal on Saturday in a loss.

(Photo: Michael Riley/PWHL)