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PWHL Boston beats Montreal 4-3 to clinch playoff spot

PWHL

Boston needed a regulation win to secure its spot, and Kaleigh Fratkin, a game-winner with 80 seconds remaining, got the job done.

Kaleigh Fratkin scored the game-winning goal with less than two minutes remaining. (Barry Chin/Globe Staff

LOWELL, Mass. (AP) — Kaleigh Fratkin scored with 80 seconds left and Boston clinched a playoff spot with a 4-3 win over Montreal after blowing a three-goal third-period lead in a regular game of the Professional Women’s Hockey League. -season finale at the Tsongas Center on Saturday.

Fratkin’s game-winning goal, 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 advance to the playoffs and keep Minnesota from clinching a spot. Minnesota finished the season on a five-game losing streak, while only needing one point to qualify for the playoffs 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 the sixth time this season. Hannah Brandt and Kelly Babstock had assists. It was Babstock’s first assist 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 dished out 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 assist for both players.

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

Montreal cut the score to 3-2 with another power play goal, this one from Mariah Keopple with 8:30 to play. Keopple also used assists from Boulier – his eighth – and Daoust – his third – to score for the first time this season. Fratkin’s brutal penalty gave Montreal a two-minute advantage.

Poulin tied Montreal with 3:09 left in the third. Erin Ambrose was credited with her 14th assist and Laura Stacey picked up her eighth on Poulin’s 10th goal of the season. Stacey finished the regular season with at least one point in five consecutive games, scoring three goals. Poulin totaled 23 points, tying her with Alex Carpenter of New York for second place. Toronto’s Natalie Spooner has already won the scoring title with 25 points with a game to play.

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

Ann-Renée Desbiens saved 31 shots for Montreal, which had already clinched second place.

Tapani’s two assists give him nine this season. Digirolamo picked up his third assist on the winner.

Boston has won 13 of a possible 15 points in its last five games to rally into the playoff spot.

Toronto clinched the top spot and will have the choice of facing the No. 3 or No. 4 seed in the first round of the playoffs. Montreal will face the remaining top seed with an advantage on the ice.

Ottawa will travel to 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.

Boston

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