PWHL Minnesota forces fifth and deciding game with double-overtime win

Get the latest from Mike Ganter straight to your inbox

Article content

PWHL Minnesota has come all the way back and made this series a win-or-go-home finale.

Advertisement 2

Article content

Game 4, like Games 1, 2, and 3, ended in a shutout, this time a double-overtime 1-0 victory as third line forward Claire Butorac got her stick on a puck that came off the backboards and wound up directing it over the shoulder of Kristin Campbell for the Minnesota win, evening up the series at 2-2.

Article content

It sets up a winner-take-all Game 5 in Toronto on Friday night.

Butorac went netfront as Sophie Jaques point shot came off the backboards. Renata Fast might have steered it out of harms’ way but Liz Schepers redirected it just enough through her own legs to get the puck into the danger zone where Butorac managed to get a stick on it.

A disappointing midweek crowd of just 2,766 was on hand for the big win.

Through two periods there was very little to choose between the two teams.

Article content

Advertisement 3

Article content

Both looked nervous at times, and downright sloppy others.

Minnesota, which played so freely in Game 3 knowing they had nothing to lose were much more tentative this time, perhaps unwilling to make that first mistake of the night.

Toronto of course was adjusting to a lineup change that injury forced on them and it was a big one.

Leading scorer and point-getter for the entire league, Natalie Spooner skated for the final time this season in Monday’s loss leaving in the third period after a knee-on-knee collision with Grace Zumwinkle.

Without Spooner, a good chunk of Toronto’s offence, almost a third on the season, goes way and realizing that Toronto seemed more defensive particularly in a first period where they managed just two shots for the second game in a row.

Advertisement 4

Article content

Toronto got a little more back to normal in the second period generating some better chances but still unable to beat Maddie Rooney who for the second game in a row blanked Toronto, this time through four periods and a bit to secure her second shutout.

Campbell was in top form in the Toronto net turning aside 28 shots before Buturac lifted that one high into the net.

Toronto settled for just 19 shots on net but were the aggressors in both overtime periods in which they outshot Minnesota 8-6.

The winner of Friday’s game back at Coca-Cola Coliseum in Toronto will take on Boston who stunned Montreal with a three-game sweep in the other semi-final. All three of those games required overtime.

[email protected]

Article content