May 30th, 2024

Nurse hat trick helps Toronto clinch top-two seed with 6-2 victory over New York

By The Associated Press on April 28, 2024.

ELMONT, N.Y. (AP) – Sarah Nurse scored two goals in the first period and finished with her first career hat trick as Toronto clinched a top-two seed and home-ice advantage in the first round of the Professional Women’s Hockey League playoffs with a 6-2 victory over New York at UBS Arena on Sunday.

Toronto (11-4-0-7) ties Montreal (10-3-5-5) for first place with a match in hand heading into the final week. Toronto has home matchups with Minnesota on Wednesday and Ottawa on May 5 remaining. Montreal, which can finish no worse than second, ends its regular season at Boston on Saturday.

It took Toronto just 65 seconds to grab the lead for good.

Nurse used assists from Renata Fast and Hannah Miller on the power play to open the scoring.

Emma Maltais and Kali Flanagan had assists on Nurse’s second goal, also on the power play, at the 12:54 mark. Maltais pulled into a four-way tie for the league lead with her 13th assist of the season.

Toronto turned it into a rout with two goals over a span of 91 seconds in the second period.

Alexa Vasko scored for a second time this season at 3:56 with assists from Brittany Howard and Rebecca Leslie.

Natalie Spooner followed with her league-leading 16th goal of the season – six more than the next closest player. Jocelyne Larocque notched an assist as Toronto took a 4-0 lead after two periods.

Nurse scored her third goal with an assist from Spooner 54 seconds into the final period for her first career hat trick. The assist gives Spooner 23 points this season, one more than Montreal’s Marie-Philip Poulin in the scoring race. Nurse has 10 goals and 10 assists this season and sits in fourth place. Nurse is the first player in the league’s first season to reach double figures in both categories.

Leslie’s second goal of the season came with an assist from Howard and stretched the lead to 6-0 at the 5:12 mark. The goal tied Montreal’s record for the most scored in a single match.

Toronto goalie Kristen Campbell, who leads the league with three shutouts this season, missed a shot at another when Abby Roque found the net for New York with 11:20 left to play. Alex Campbell notched her 13th assist and Ella Shelton tallied her 10th on Roque’s fifth netter of the campaign. Campbell is third in the scoring race with 21 points.

New York’s Brooke Hobson scored her first career goal – with assists from Micah Zandee-Hart and Jade Downie-Landry on a power play with 48 seconds remaining – to cap the scoring.

Campbell saved 31 of 33 shots for Toronto.

Abigail Levy started and saved 18 of 24 shots for New York (3-4-3-12). Lindsey Post played the final 14:31 and stopped all five shots she faced.

New York opened the season with a 4-0 road win over Toronto. Toronto has three regulation wins and a shootout victory in the match-up since then.

New York, which has been eliminated from postseason play, closes out the regular season at home against Ottawa on Tuesday and Minnesota on Saturday.

___

AP Women’s Hockey: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-hockey

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