NORTH BRANFORD, Feb. 24 – The Boston Pride scored a pair of shorthanded goals in the second period and extended their National Women’s Hockey League record winning streak to 25 consecutive games with a 5-4 come-from-behind win over the Connecticut Whale Friday night at the Northford Ice Pavilion.
Boston (14-0), which has already clinched the regular season title, is two victories away from posting an undefeated season. Connecticut (4-11-1) lost for the eighth consecutive game, a franchise record.
Connecticut, which coughed up a pair of four-goal leads a week ago in an overtime loss to the New York Riveters, had a three-goal lead over Boston, 4-1 with 15:33 gone in the second period thanks to goals from Nicole Kosta, Kelli Stack, Kelly Babstock and Zoe Hickel.
But Boston scored four times in the second period to take the lead including scoring a pair of short-handed goals in a span of 54 seconds to tie up the game at 4-4. In front of the Whale net, Boston’s Hilary Knight stole a pass from Hickel, her former teammate that was traded to Connecticut earlier this month, and beat goalie Shenae Lundberg with a wicked shot.
Just 54 seconds later, it was Gigi Marvin scoring after the Pride intercepted a cross-ice pass on the Connecticut power play to tie the game at 4-4. Marvin made the initial interception and hit the post on her shot. Knight collected the rebound and fed Marvin, who scored.
Three minutes later, Boston took a 5-4 lead on a goal from Emily Field off a pass from Brianna Decker. For the Pride, it was four goals in three minutes and 56 seconds. Decker finished the game with four points, one goal and three assists. Knight had three points (one goal, two assists).
Lundberg was peppered with shots throughout the game. She made a team-record 45 saves on 50 shots – also a team record.
Connecticut has two games remaining with Buffalo and need to win both to move up to third place and avoid Boston in the NWHL’s Isobel Cup semifinals. The Pride have already clinched the top seed in the playoffs and will host a semifinal game on Thursday, March 16 at Warrior Arena in Boston.
The league announced Friday that the NWHL’s Isobel Cup championship game will be held Sunday, March 19 at the Tsongas Center in Lowell, Mass., at 6 p.m.
Earlier this month, the NWHL announced that it would shorten the regular season and modify the playoff schedule to complete the season before March 19 to allow players on national teams to participate in the upcoming IIHF World Championships in Michigan.
Instead of a best-of-three semifinal and championship series, the playoffs will be single-elimination contests on March 16-19. Connecticut has three players who will participate in the world championships –Stack, Haley Skarupa and Dana Trivigno – with Team USA. The world championships are scheduled to run from March 31 through April 7 in Plymouth, Michigan.
The Whale lost three regular season games including home games against Buffalo (March 5) and New York (March 19). The decision was agreed to by the league and player representatives.
Connecticut plays at Buffalo on Sunday and hosts the Beauts in their regular season finale on Sunday, March 12 at the Northfield Ice Pavilion at 3 p.m.
Boston 5, Connecticut 4
At North Branford
Boston (14-0) 1 4 0 –5
Connecticut (4-11-1) 3 1 0 – 4
Connecticut 1, Nicole Kosta (Kelly Babstock, Shannon Doyle) 5:10; Boston 1, Brianna Decker (Hilary Knight, Jordan Smelker) 6:06; Connecticut 2, Kelli Stack (Haley Skarupa, Micaela Long) 9:20; Connecticut 3, Kelly Babstock (Skarupa, Kaliya Johnson), 14:49; Penalties: Dana Trivigno (CT), tripping, 7:09; Meghan Duggan (B), holding, 12:04; Cydney Roesler (CT), delay of game, 16:13
Connecticut 4, Zoe Hickel (Dana Trivigno, Stack), 5:27 (pp); Boston 2, Jordan Smelker (Alexandra bencer, Brianna Decker), 12:14; Boston 3, Hilary Knight, 12:54 (sh); Boston 4, Gigi Marvin (Decker, Knight), 13:50 (sh); Boston 5, Emily Field (Decker), 16:11; Penalties – Sam Faber (CT), holding, 0:49; Brianna Decker (B), body checking, 2:43; Jordan Smelker (B) slashing, 5:14; Alexandra Bender (B), body checking, 7:07; Kelly Babstock (CT), tripping, 11:47; Duggan (B), tripping, 12:02; Trivigno (CT), slashing, 18:50
No scoring. Penalties – Kelly Babstock (CT), hooking, 7:03; Brianna Decker (B) 8:09; Sam Faber (CT) tripping, 10:15; Megan Dugghan (B) roughing, 12:48
Shots: Boston 50 (16-18-16), Connecticut 22 (9-8-5); Power play: Boston 0-7, Connecticut 1-7
Goalies: Boston, Brittany Ott 9 shots, 6 saves; Lauren Slebodnick (W, 5-0), 13 shots, 12 saves; Connecticut, Shenae Lundberg (L, 1-5), 50 shots, 45 saves
x-clinched regular season championship
Boston 5, Connecticut 4
Connecticut at Buffalo, 3:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 4
New York at Boston, 6:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 5
Buffalo at Boston, 5:30 p.m.