LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — Not lacking for heart or hustle, the Pride evened its best-of-three elimination series with the Beauts with a dominant 6-0 win on Sunday.
Mallory Souliotis (two goals), McKenna Brand, Sammy Davis, Lauren Kelly, and Meghara McManus scored for Boston (2-4-0), which can earn the No. 4 seed in Thursday’s Isobel Cup semifinal — or head home — after Monday’s deciding game (8:30 p.m., Twitch.tv/NWHL).
In its previous five games here, Boston scored nine goals, but had just one each in losing four of the five. This, from the team that last year went 23-1-0 with a league-best 120 goals (and league-low 43 allowed) in 24 games. They were the favorite coming into this two-week season for good reason.
Not only are they playing like it now, they’re seeing the results on the scoreboard.
“It was great,” said Souliotis, who opened the scoring and sparked a goalie change with her second. “I think it was only a matter of time before we got the offense going.”
Boston, able to control the puck for long stretches and change out players, had chance after chance throughout the game. The heavy traffic chased Buffalo netminder Carly Jackson (four goals on 26 shots), who was dynamite on Saturday (one goal on 37 shots), 2:37 into the third. Backup Carly Flagg, a UMass Boston alum, allowed two goals on 10 shots in her NWHL debut.
The Pride took two penalties, cutting their five-game average in half.
“Before the game, we looked at each other and said, ‘What little things can you do to hold yourself accountable for tonight?’ ” captain Jillian Dempsey said. “That’s the Boston Pride hockey that we’re proud of, and that we want to keep going.”
Boston’s Lovisa Selander (31-save shutout) had to make a few stops on hard, straightaway shots, but wasn’t under fire for second and third opportunities. Coach Paul Mara didn’t commit to a starting goalie for Monday, the team’s third game in three nights. He also had no update on No. 2 right wing Mary Parker (undisclosed), who missed her second game in a row.
Buffalo coach Pete Perram said he was going back to Jackson, and that he expected both teams to be fatigued.
“We’re concerned because we have some tired players, but we’re going to be ready,” he said. “We put ourselves in a position to win and go to the semis and we’re going to do that.
“Yesterday we ate the bear, and today the bear ate us.”
In the opening seconds, the lights briefly went out in the building as Pride winger Sammy Davis streaked into the Beauts zone. There would be many more opportunities to score.
The Pride, as they have in every game here, scored first. Forty-two seconds into the second period, Souliotis crept into the left circle and snapped home a pass from Christina Putigna (three assists), who flicked a loose rebound from the goal line to the pinching defender.
Putigna was at it again late in the second, connecting with McKenna Brand on a play that Bruins defenseman Torey Krug used to run with David Pastrnak.
From just outside her own zone, Putigna saw Brand in full flight, raced past two Buffalo defenders. Brand chipped Putigna’s long pass off the end boards over Jackson’s blocker with 1:52 left in the period.
With the clock winding down in the second, Davis won a puck battle against Alyson Matteau at the red line, gained the line and cut across the high slot. With four seconds on the clock, she seemed to surprise Jackson, ripping a blocker-side wrister past a screen.
Boston scored three more times in the first 6:19 of the third. Jackson’s day ended after Souliotis’ long wrister hit paydirt at 2:37. Kelly found the net with a power-play slapper from inside the blue line at 5:30. After a rush by top defender Kaleigh Fratkin (three assists), McManus tucked a turnaround bid underneath Flagg’s left pad at 6:19, for her first NWHL goal.