Fratkin rallies Boston to 4-3 victory over Montreal, spot in PWHL postseason

LOWELL, Mass. (AP) — Kaleigh Fratkin scored with 80 seconds remaining and Boston clinched a berth in the postseason with a 4-3 victory over Montreal after blowing all of a three-goal third-period lead in a Professional Women's Hockey League regular-season finale at the Tsongas Center on Saturday.

Fratkin's winner, her second goal of the season, came with assists from Jessica Digirolamo and Susanna Tapani, and gave Boston the lead just 1:49 after a goal by Montreal's Marie-Philip Poulin evened the score.

Boston (8-4-3-9) needed a victory in regulation to qualify for the playoffs and keep Minnesota from clinching a spot. Minnesota ended the season on a five-match losing streak, all while needing just one point to qualify for the postseason in the league's inaugural campaign.

Boston took a 1-0 lead with 4:41 left in the first period when Hilary Knight scored for a sixth time this season. Hannah Brandt and Kelly Babstock had assists. It was Babstock's first helper of the season.

Boston took a two-goal lead with 1:18 left in the period after Alina Müller used assists from Theresa Schafzahl — her third — and Tapani to score her fifth goal of the campaign.

Knight and Brandt delivered assists when Megan Keller scored her fourth goal of the season with 6:23 left in the second period to give Boston a 3-0 lead. It was the fifth helper for both players.

Montreal (10-3-5-6) got on the scoreboard 3:43 into the final period on Mikyla Grant-Mentis' power-play goal. The score came after Babstock received a two-minute penalty for roughing. Amanda Boulier and Mélodie Daoust had assists as Grant-Mentis found the net for the first time this season.

Montreal pulled within 3-2 on another power-play goal, this one by Mariah Keopple with 8:30 to go. Keopple also used assists from Boulier — her eighth — and Daoust — her third — to score for the first time this season. Fratkin's roughing penalty led to the two-minute advantage for Montreal.

Poulin pulled Montreal even with 3:09 left in the third. Erin Ambrose was credited with her 14th assist and Laura Stacey snagged her eighth on Poulin's 10th goal of the season. Stacey ends the regular season with at least one point in five straight matches, scoring three goals. Poulin totaled 23 points, tying her with New York's Alex Carpenter for second place. Toronto's Natalie Spooner has already won the scoring title with 25 points and one match to go.

Aerin Frankel stopped two shots on goal by Poulin in the final 31 seconds and finished with 26 saves for Boston. She saved 16 of 16 shots through the first two periods. Frankel entered play with a 1.94 goals-against average, second in the league to the 1.61 average of Montreal's Elaine Chuli.

Ann-Renée Desbiens saved 31 shots for Montreal, which had already clinched the No. 2 seed.

Tapani's two assists give her nine on the season. Digirolamo notched her third assist on the winner.

Boston claimed 13 of a possible 15 points in its final five matches to rally for the postseason berth.

Toronto has clinched first place and will have its choice of playing the No. 3 or No. 4 seed in the first round of the playoffs. Montreal will play the remaining seed with a home-ice advantage.

Ottawa visits first-place Toronto on Sunday to close out the regular season. Ottawa would grab the final playoff spot and eliminate Minnesota with a regulation victory over the regular-season champions.


AP Women’s Hockey: