PWHL Toronto stays hot with shootout victory over New York, despite giving up late tying goal

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It was the type of game you just knew Emma Maltais was going to have a big role in.

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Two teams that have already seen each other four times now in the first half of the PWHL season had built up a healthy dislike for the other and those are exactly the games in which Maltais excels.

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And excel she did in Toronto’s 2-1 shootout win.

It was no surprise when a scoreless — and chippy — game well into the third period finally saw the first goal of the night come off the stick of Toronto’s feisty forward with just 7:26 remaining in regulation time.

Blayre Turnbull’s pass into the middle stayed too high for Maltais to take it off her stick, so she smartly knocked it down with her body and then got her stick on it, directing the puck past Corinne Schroeder, all while falling down.

It was Maltais’ second goal of the season … both coming against New York.

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Maltais’ overall play, since that first goal back in Game 2 of the season, had started to slip, earning her a demotion to the fourth line for a game. But the Burlington native bounced right back, earning a move back into the top six.

Maltais then joined Canada for the Rivalry Series where her game took another jump.

Since returning to PWHL play, Maltais’ play has remained at a high level.

But if there is one thing New York has proven to be good at this season already, it’s taking games to overtime. It did so again as, with Schroeder pulled for a sixth attacker, Ella Shelton’s fourth goal of the season — and second in this building — when she was left unchecked in front of the Toronto net with 8.6 seconds remaining, roofing a pass out from the side boards to push the game into extra time.

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Toronto netminder Kristen Campbell, with help from her defence, had moments earlier stoned New York on two in-tight chances.

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Overtime solved nothing, leaving a shootout to solve the evening with league-leading goal-scorer Natalie Spooner taking things over.

Spooner was the only shooter to score in the first four attempts by either team and then sealed it as the fifth shooter with her second.

It gave third-place Toronto its fifth win in a row as it continued to climb the standings, gaining just two points for the shootout win rather than the three from a win in regulation.

Much like the Battle of Bay Street against Montreal, this one was a defensive affair over the first two periods. Both teams had their chances, New York’s primarily on the power play while Toronto’s were spread over power play and five-on-five chances.

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But Campbell and Schroeder in the New York net turned them all away.

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Toronto had the edge in chances over the first two periods outshooting New York 23-18.

Spooner was living in Schroeder’s crease at times and had four point-blank cracks at the net but couldn’t tip one past her or wrap one in.

Alexandra Carpenter, the league’s leading point-getter and second in goals to Spooner’s10 goals was a little quieter with just one shot through the first two frames.

Both teams had three power plays each through the first two periods with New York’s best chances coming with Maltais serving a two-minute minor for something called faceoff interference.

Maltais and Turnbull along with the defensive pairing of Renata Fast and Jocelyn Larocque, have been Toronto’s best penalty-killers this season and, without Maltais out there, New York had a few lanes it normally wouldn’t have.

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Campbell was at her best on that particular penalty-kill.

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It was the fourth meeting between the two teams as they both reached the halfway point in the season.

The familiarity was evident in the physicality level particularly when it came to Toronto’s ultra physical defender Allie Munro and New York’s feisty forward Abby Roque.

Roque took exception to a Munro hit in the first period and drew the game’s first penalty when her objection to the hit went a little too far earning Roque a roughing minor.

It was far from the only disagreement on the night but it was one of the more obvious altercations.

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