May 17th, 2024

Turnbull, Toronto cruise past Minnesota 4-0 in first-ever PWHL playoff game

By Abdulhamid Ibrahim, The Canadian Press on May 8, 2024.

Toronto goaltender Kristen Campbell (50) keeps an eye on the play as Toronto's Kali Flanagan (6) controls Minnesota's Grace Zumwinkle (13) during second period PWHL playoff hockey action in Toronto on Wednesday, May 8, 2024.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

TORONTO – Blayre Turnbull scored two goals to lead Toronto to a 4-0 win over Minnesota in the first-ever Professional Women’s Hockey League playoff game on Wednesday.

Natalie Spooner, with the opening goal and one assist, and Emma Maltais also scored for top-seeded Toronto in front of 8,473 fans at Coca-Cola Coliseum.

Kristen Campbell posted a 26-save shutout. Nicole Hensley stopped 15 shots for fourth-seeded Minnesota.

Game 2 in the best-of-five semifinal is set for Friday in Toronto.

The hosts entered Wednesday winners of four straight to close the regular season, including a 4-1 win over Minnesota last Wednesday.

Toronto went 2-1-0-1 against Minnesota in the regular season. Minnesota earned a 3-1 road victory on Jan. 10.

Toronto got its first pair of decent scoring chances early in the opening period. Brittany Howard almost fired one in off a blocked Sarah Nurse shot and Alexa Vasko was stopped on a one-timer from the slot shortly after.

Spooner opened the scoring at 9:47 of the first period to the delight of the deafening home crowd. The PWHL scoring champion took a pass from Hannah Miller and fired a wrister that went top corner past Hensley’s glove.

Maltais made it 2-0 at the 55-second mark of the second period. Nurse drew the attention of two defenders approaching the slot and found a streaking Maltais who backhanded it between Hensley’s pads.

Turnbull got in on the action with 4:55 remaining in the middle frame. She took the puck up ice, sent it off to Spooner who dished it back and Turnbull tapped it in.

Minnesota had a 17-11 edge in shots after 40 minutes.

Spooner had a great chance in front to score her second goal of the game early in the third period but was stopped by Hensley.

Turnbull netted her second of the contest with 37.8 seconds left in the game. She buried home a rebound from a Miller miss.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 8, 2024.

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