May 26th, 2024

Frankel stops 53, Tapani scores in OT as Boston steals playoff win over Montreal

By Daniel Rainbird, The Canadian Press on May 9, 2024.

LAVAL, Que. – Aerin Frankel made 53 saves and Susanna Tapani scored in overtime to lead Boston to a 2-1 win in Game 1 of their Professional Women’s Hockey League semifinal series on Thursday.

Tapani pounced on a loose puck in the blue paint at 14:25 of the extra period for the first overtime goal in PWHL playoff history.

Lexie Adzija scored in regulation for Boston. The visitors entered the best-of-five semifinal with wins in four of their final five games, including a 4-3 victory over Montreal in the final game of the regular season to clinch a playoff berth.

Kristin O’Neill scored and Ann-Renée Desbiens stopped 24 shots for Montreal before 9,135 towel-waiving fans at Place Bell.

Montreal finished second in the PWHL regular season and six points ahead of third-place Boston.

Game 2 in the series is Saturday in Laval.

The winner meets Toronto or Minnesota in a best-of-five final for the Walter Cup. Toronto leads the other semifinal 1-0.

Montreal, which caught fire on the power play late in the season, went 1-for-5 in a chippy game that could have seen many more penalties. Boston was 0-for-2.

Laura Stacey nearly ended the game on a breakaway 10 minutes into the extra period but missed high after chasing down a stretch pass from Mélodie Daoust.

Keller then put Montreal on the power play by slashing the stick out of Stacey’s hands. Montreal, however, couldn’t bury a winner past Frankel.

With Boston trailing 1-0, Shirley cut to the inside and ripped a shot that hit Adzija’s stick and beat Desbiens to tie the game 1:48 into the third period.

Stacey received a pass from Montreal captain Marie-Philip Poulin while streaking down the wing, but couldn’t tuck her backhand past Frankel with six minutes left.

Moments later, the puck appeared to hit a player on Montreal’s bench but the play continued without a whistle.

Surprised by the strange sequence, Desbiens rushed to play the loose puck only for Tapani to intercept a pass. Tapani shot toward an open net but Desbiens dove to get her stick on it and keep the game tied.

O’Neill opened the scoring with a power-play goal 1:07 into the second period. Stacey’s one-timer hit Frankel’s shoulder and fell on the goal line before O’Neill knocked it into the net.

The home team nearly doubled the lead 12 minutes into the frame when Mikyla Grant-Mentis set up Gabrielle David in the slot with Montreal once again on the power play. David’s shot appeared to fool Frankel, who lost track of the puck, but didn’t hit the back of the net.

Montreal led the shots 25-10 after 40 minutes and 12-2 after 20.

Kati Tabin found Stacey all alone in the offensive zone early. Stacey, however, couldn’t get her shot past Boston’s netminder.

With 1:29 left in the period, Poulin danced around two Boston defenders on the rush before laying a pass to Stacey, but Frankel slid from post to post for an acrobatic toe save on the one-timer. Poulin hit the post from a tight angle on the rebound.

Tabin’s point shot in the final minute trickled through Frankel and rolled just wide of the net. Frankel then hooked Poulin to put Montreal on the power play – ultimately leading to O’Neill’s opener early in the second.

LINEUP CHANGES

The PWHL suspended Montreal forward Sarah Lefort for one game ahead of Game 1 for her open-ice hit on Boston forward Jamie Lee Rattray in the final game of the regular season Saturday.

Rattray, Taylor Girard and Loren Gabel – all forwards – were out of the lineup for Boston.

Montreal activated reserve player Mélodie Daoust to play in the semifinals. The 2018 Olympics MVP is therefore ineligible to play in the final should Montreal advance, according to her reserve player contract.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 9, 2024.

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