PWHL Finals - Game 2: Minnesota 3, Boston 0
- 5 min read

PWHL Finals - Game 2: Minnesota 3, Boston 0

PWHL Finals - Game 2: Minnesota 3, Boston 0 by Melissa Burgess

In her first game since May 8, Nicole Hensley put up a 20-save shutout to help propel PWHL Minnesota to a 3-0 win on Tuesday night in Boston. Powered by goals from Michela Cava and Sophie Jaques, the win ties the best-of-five championship series.

What happened?

Tuesday's game started with good end-to-end action, with both teams getting chances. Minnesota seemed to have the more dangerous opportunities early, but slowed down massively as the opening frame went on. At one point, Boston held them without a shot on goal for a whopping 10:58 – but when they did finally get another shot, it was a goal. Yet again in the PWHL playoffs, it's not necessarily about how many shots you get; it's about making them count.

Mellissa Channell squeezes out Alina Müller along the wall in the defensive zone, scooping the puck up to Michela Cava, who streaked down the ice. Cava was then looking to make a pass through the crease to Kendall Coyne Schofield, but the puck bounced off Megan Keller's stick along the way, sailing over Aerin Frankel, off the crossbar and in.

Less than two minutes later, Minnesota took a 2-0 lead. After recovering the puck off a juicy rebound, Liz Schepers got it over to Sophie Jaques. Jaques executed a great fake on the play to give herself a better angle on the shot, which she tucked into the net low on Frankel's glove side.

After Minnesota failed to capitalize on a power play late in the first period, Boston seemed to come out with a revived energy to start the second period. Jess Healey thought she'd put her team on the board, coming up the middle of the ice to capitalize off a rebound after a great sequence by Sophie Shirley & Jamie Lee Rattray to tie up their opponents. The goal was called off (more on that below), and Minnesota's shutout bid remained intact.

The disallowed goal, followed by two unsuccessful power plays, sent Boston to intermission still down by a pair. Another power play early in the third proved fruitless, too, and Boston just couldn't solve Hensley. They amped up the pressure late in the game, including a shorthanded chance from Hilary Knight and another power play, but couldn't get it done.

Jaques added an empty-netter with 2:29 left in regulation, sealing the 3-0 win.

Whichever team wins on Friday will then have the chance to win the Walter Cup on Sunday in Game 4 at Xcel Energy Center.

Three up, three down

↑ Goaltending depth – With how lights-out Maddie Rooney has played as of late, it's easy to forget that Minnesota has two outstanding goaltenders on its roster at the moment. Nicole Hensley was the team's starter for much of the regular season, but Rooney went on a hot streak in the playoffs. She got a well-deserved break Tuesday, and Hensley stepped in and got her first shutout of the postseason.

↓ The play is under review – Jess Healey appeared to get Boston on the board in the second period, setting off a weird sequence of action. The official positioned behind the net immediately signaled a good goal after Healey's shot. After Boston celebrated, the four officials gathered on the ice to chat, then ruled it no goal. They spent a minute explaining it to captains Hilary Knight & Kendall Coyne Schofield, then proceeded to go into the penalty box to look at the video. After an extended second review, it was again deemed no goal, with no explanation immediately given on the broadcast. It wasn't for about eight minutes that on-site media reported league staff told them it was because the play had already been blown dead, not because of goaltender interference. The broadcast showed replays, but the commentators spoke over the video, so you couldn't even hear if there was indeed a whistle. This is also made slightly more complicated by the fact that the league transitioned to a centralized video review system, which means a league-appointed video review judge has the final call on all reviewed situations.

Tessa Bonhomme also seemed to imply that the official that blew the whistle was doing so from near center ice, as opposed to the official positioned behind the net (who initially signaled a good goal). It was an odd situation, and it had a major impact on the game.

↑ Honoring history – It may seem like a little thing, but it was refreshing to hear Kenzie Lalonde mention the 2021 Isobel Cup Final between the Boston Pride and the Minnesota Whitecaps on the broadcast, including how Taylor Wenczkowski scored the championship-winning goal and how her stick made it to the Hockey Hall of Fame. Earlier in the season, the PWHL generally seemed to avoid mentioning the PHF/NWHL or CWHL, which was incredibly frustrating at times, so it was nice to hear some of the history honored.

↓ An odd time for an interview – The broadcast included a nearly seven minute long interview with Jayna Hefford, discussing the status of the PWHL and its innovations this season. It was an informative interview for viewers at home, but doing it in the middle of the game? Not the time. Let the broadcasters focus on calling the action on the ice, not doing an interview while play is going on. Save the interviews for intermissions. (Lots of folks in the YouTube chat agreed.)

↑ Connect with the future – Great idea to have Northeastern's Megan Carter, Gwyneth Philips, and Katy Knoll on the broadcast during the second intermission. All three have declared for the upcoming PWHL draft, and it's a nice gesture to help connect fans who are watching with some of the up-and-coming players like that.

↓ Lengthy reviews – After the already-lengthy goal review earlier in the game, this one also featured a long review for a potential penalty in the third period. It eventually resulted in a minor penalty on Boston's Jessica Digirolamo, but the point is this: reviews should not take that long. This isn't specific to the PWHL, either; the NHL has faced the same issue. When reviews take too long, you start to lose viewers, and it raises questions from media and fans about the process.

VP's Player of the Game

Michela Cava – Cava's goal at 14:25 of the first period stood as the game-winner in a critical victory for Minnesota. She also had a team-high six shots on goal and skated 13:32. Cava now has four points (2G, 2A) in seven playoff games, after putting up eight points (5G, 3A) in 24 regular-season games.

  • 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

Upcoming schedule

Here is the schedule for the rest of the series:

  • Game 3: Friday, May 24 @ 7:00 PM Eastern | Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, Minnesota
  • Game 4: Sunday, May 26 @ 6:00 PM Eastern | Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, Minnesota
  • Game 5: Wednesday, May 29 @ 7:00 PM Eastern | Tsongas Center, Lowell, Massachusetts *

* Game 5 if necessary.

Games air on TSN and RDS in Canada, NESN/NESN+ in New England, and Bally Sports North/Bally Sports North Extra in the Minnesota market. Games are also streaming on the Women's Sports Network and the PWHL's YouTube channel, and games will be available on the MSG family of channels in the New York market.

(Photo: Michael Riley/PWHL)