Almost But Not Quite: Ottawa 3, Minnesota 4 (SO)
- 4 min read

Almost But Not Quite: Ottawa 3, Minnesota 4 (SO)

Almost But Not Quite: Ottawa 3, Minnesota 4 (SO) by Zoë Hayden

Sandra Abstreiter got the road start in Minnesota and stopped 43 of 46 shots in regulation and overtime, but the game ended up in a shootout where Minnesota was able to get the extra point.

What happened?

Minnesota's top line connected early for the first tally, a shot from in tight with conviction by Abby Boreen in her final regular season appearance for Minnesota on her second 10-day contract. Ottawa's defensive coverage was lacking through the majority of the first period – they were letting Minnesota skate right through them and to the net. Minnesota extended their lead to 2-0 on Denisa Křížová's first of the season, a snipe job off of a clean zone entry (which Ottawa allowed a lot of at various points throughout this game).

Brianne Jenner drew a penalty on Brittyn Fleming almost immediately after Křížová's tally – she executed a perfect backcheck on Fleming and took the puck the other way. Jenner kept her feet moving, and Fleming hooked her. Ottawa's power play got moving and held the puck for an extended period in the offensive zone. When Minnesota tried to get the puck out from in front of Maddie Rooney, it ended up on Scamurra's stick instead. It wasn't clean, but Scamurra battled with her reach to keep the puck on her stick and got the shot off to make it 2-1.

Ottawa forced the issue and executed some really pretty passing to pull even. Coming into the zone, Jenner left a quick drop pass for Daryl Watts, who hit Kateřina Mrázová with an absurd pass from distance. Mrázová was waiting back door and put the puck behind Rooney to make the score 2-2.

The only goal of the second period came less than a minute in, with Mrázová netting her second of the game on the power play after Boreen was whistled for a hit to the head at 0:21. Ottawa just collapsed around the net from up high, and a bunch of players got whacks at it, and Mrázová tapped it in, with the assists going to Jenner and Watts yet again.

Minnesota continued to get into penalty trouble, and Ottawa had an opportunity to extend their lead when Maggie Flaherty went to the box for tripping, but Minnesota was able to kill it and subsequently had probably the better looks for the rest of the game trying to mount the comeback. They ran up against Abstreiter and an Ottawa defense desperately trying to turn to offense, which managed to disrupt them at times but you really got the sense that they were trying to hang on to the lead rather than feeling like they could extend it.

And extend it they did not. Midway through the third period, Grace Zumwinkle hit Křížová with a pass in a soft area of the slot, and Křížová buried it high on Abstreiter. To add to Ottawa's troubles, Aneta Tejralová took a pretty textbook boarding penalty at the end of regulation, ensuring that they would be shorthanded to end the period and to begin overtime.

While no one scored during OT, the shootout put down Ottawa's hopes of turning their fortunes around. Křížová was able to put a shot on that trickled through Abstreiter. While Pannek and Boreen were both stopped, Zumwinkle and Taylor Heise both buried their shots during the best-of-five to get the win. Ottawa's only goal of the shootout was a filthy backhand by Hayley Scamurra, but Watts, Jenner, and Emily Clark were all stopped by Maddie Rooney.

Three up, three down

↑ Fire at will – Minnesota put up a shooting gallery on Abstreiter, and it was actually the first time they'd won in a game putting up 40+ shots all season. They'd previously fallen to New York, Montreal, and Boston. 47 shots is their highest total all season (including another OT game), but they still were taken to a shootout to get the victory.

↓ Defense? – In a game where one team put up nearly 50 SOG and in which the other team allowed 3 goals, two of them PPGs, on 25 shots, this was not an excellent defensive performance for either team. Minnesota continues to play very well 5v5, but their penalty kill has to be a genuine cause for concern at this point staring down the barrel of the playoffs.

↑ Abby Boreen – The broadcast went on a bit about Boreen's contract status. She is limited to her two 10-day contracts because she is a full-time pharmacy student, though she can be available again in the playoffs. If Boreen is planning on continuing her hockey career once her studies are complete, Minnesota's top line would be very grateful.

↓ Individual efforts – Now is the time in the season when we're really starting to see teams separate thanks to playing complete team games. What's interesting from Ottawa is that the effort is there to win games, and they get excellent individual performances that click together – except, seemingly, on defense. Offense is the best defense for Ottawa and they haven't been able to get the kind of possession game together that they need to make that work. Their management of their defensive blueline is where you're really continuing to see it. No other team in the PWHL is allowing the opposition easy access to their d-zone quite like Ottawa is, and it's getting a bit late in the season to turn it around.

↑ Daryl Watts – Seriously, how good is she? She makes incredibly quick decisions with the puck that so often lead to scoring chances. Her first assist for Mrázová was a thing of beauty, but she generally has a knack for kicking into an extra gear after her team has been scored on. Watch her carry the puck into the offensive zone under pressure after Ottawa has had a setback – it's intense.

↓ Extra time – Ottawa has to feel cursed at this point. They're 0 and 5 in games that have gone to extra time or a shootout. They only have four wins on the season, all in regulation. If they had any of those extra points, the standings could look quite a bit different.

VP's Player of the Game

Brianne Jenner – Jenner's two-way ability is certainly not unsung, but I wanted to highlight her backcheck in this game in general. If she doesn't see an obvious opportunity to force a turnover, she creates one. When she can draw a penalty on a sequence like that, too, that's icing on the cake – and it can get Ottawa cooking.

  • Game replay link (YouTube) - The PWHL has started posting "condensed game archive" video, after taking their videos private after broadcast as of late. Check their video uploads page for the game archive content as it becomes available. (This game is not yet as of press time.)
  • Game data

(Photo: PWHL)