It's Not That Deep: Toronto 5, Ottawa 2
- 4 min read

It's Not That Deep: Toronto 5, Ottawa 2

It's Not That Deep: Toronto 5, Ottawa 2 by Zoë Hayden

The Battle of Ontario resumed at TD Place in Ottawa, and a lot had changed for both of these teams since the last time they met back on January 23. Toronto triumphed over Ottawa to win their seventh straight game, and Ottawa took the regulation loss at home.

What happened?

The first period started off tentatively, with both teams staying mostly to the outside, but heated up quickly into end-to-end action. While there weren't a lot of shots on net, the ones that did get through were high quality. The difference-maker ended up being on the power play for Toronto, with Fanni Garát-Gasparics in the box for interference. A shot from Renata Fast up high found Sarah Nurse in the slot, and she was able to put a sneaky shot past Emerance Maschmeyer. The goal was initially credited to Nurse, but Spooner, apparently, got the last touch on it planted in front of the net to put her team up 1-0.

Early in the second, Brittany Howard extended the Toronto lead to 2. A smart forecheck by Victoria Bach found Howard at the hashmarks, who rocketed a shot past Maschmeyer. Just a couple minutes later, Toronto extended their lead to 3-0 by burning Ottawa in transition. Spooner shot off of Maschmeyer's pads intentionally and Hannah Miller picked up the rebound. This chased Maschmeyer (a first for her this season) and put Sandra Abstreiter in goal. But Samantha Cogan would bury her first PWHL goal on Abstreiter's first shot faced, and it was 4-0 Toronto before six minutes were gone in the second.

After a timeout by Carla MacLeod and a TV media break, Maggie Connors got sprung on a breakaway, but Abstreiter made the save. It took some time, but Ottawa began to dig themselves out. The Clark-Hughes-Scamurra line finally got something going in the offensive zone and just willed the puck to the front. Off a scramble, Gabbie Hughes got the stick on it to put it behind Kristen Campbell and reduce the deficit to 4-1.

While Ottawa kept pushing, they didn't add anything before the end of the period, and early in the third they found themselves shorthanded on a holding penalty against Jincy Roese. Ottawa had good sticks to disrupt Toronto's attempts to take it deep, and Emily Clark had a breakaway chance, but lost the handle on it at the last second.

Ottawa cut the lead to 4-2 on a goal that came off of chaos from Kateřina Mrázová and Becca Gilmore buzzing around the net, with Ashton Bell getting the shot off the scramble that found its way behind Campbell.

While Ottawa continued to push throughout the third, it was hard for them to mount enough pressure. At one point, they almost even increased the deficit. Spooner picked the puck past Bell and had a point-blank chance on Abstreiter, which actually did end up behind her, but it did not cross the line as everyone collapsed behind the netminder to keep it out. With about two and a half minutes to go, Ottawa pulled Abstreiter, but in that moment they also got a little lackadaisical with the puck in the neutral zone and Toronto was able to capitalize. Maggie Connors sealed the deal with an empty netter, and that was all she wrote.

Three up, three down

↑ The Toronto ascendancy – The run that Toronto has been on has been magical. For now, at least, they move into second place in the PWHL with 24 points. Their next games are home games against Boston and Montreal, which presents a potential opportunity for them to move into first place, depending on how other action around the league shakes out. Their bad start feels like a distant memory.

↓ Quick collapse – Ottawa conceded three goals in just 2 minutes and 28 seconds in the early going of the second period. While they clawed back, the damage was already done and they'd put themselves in a difficult position. It has to be so frustrating because they didn't go without opportunities to score – but they could have been tighter on defense, and it didn't take long for Toronto to open a wide berth.

↑ Victoria Bach – Bach has been a consistent element for Toronto since they started their move up the standings. She has yet to be held without a shot on goal and has 1 goal and 3 assists in 6 games. She had two primary assists in this one, setting up both Brittany Howard and Samantha Cogan.

↓ Overdoing it – It might be time for Ottawa to look at giving Sandra Abstreiter some more starts. They're getting incredible goaltending from Emerance Maschmeyer in general, but the team's play in front of her has not rewarded her efforts. If they need a kick in the butt, so to speak, to play more consistent defensively so that their offense can have an opportunity to shine, it could be worth a shot at some point in the next handful of games.

↑ Gabbie Hughes, still – Hughes is individually on a run of 5 points (4 goals, 1 assist) in 6 games and her finishing ability is almost singlehandedly keeping Ottawa in the hunt for points. She's going to need more help for Ottawa to get out of the basement in the standings – but you get the sense she's going to keep producing regardless.

↓ Ottawa special teams – You can't score on the power play if you don't draw a penalty, and Toronto stayed out of the box against Ottawa's power play for all 60 minutes. They also put up a power play tally against a penalty kill that has struggled, going just 78.1% on the season.

VP's Player of the Game

Sandra Abstreiter – Abstreiter appeared in just her second game, coming in to a difficult situation with her team down 3-0, and she allowed the first shot she faced. After that, she settled down, made 10 saves and ensured her team had a chance to come back. It wasn't an easy spot for her to be in, and not a situation that many PWHL goalies have been in so far this year, but she performed admirably.

(Photo: Andrea Cardin/Freestyle Photography/PWHL)