In the historic first game of the first round of the very first NWHL playoffs, the absence of Nana Fujimoto due to illness turned out to be the least of the Riveters' problems. Jenny Scrivens stepped up in spectacular style to stop 50 of the surging Boston Pride's 56 chances. Unfortunately, the game was lost on the ice in front of her, where the Pride capitalized on three of their seven power plays, thus turning a well-fought game into a blowout.
The first period was even for nearly 8 minutes, until Kiira Dosdall went off for bodychecking and Boston powerhouse Brianna Decker put away a pass from Jillian Dempsey. They struck even faster on their next power play opportunity, with Zoe Hickel sneaking the puck behind Scrivens' back after a blast from the top of the slot. The Pride took 24 shots to the Riveters' 4 in the 1st period, which was a pretty good indicator of how the rest of the game would go.
Not that the Rivs didn't get their chances. Bray Ketchum, who has been on a scoring streak, hit the crossbar early in the second, and later in the game Taylor Holze, who missed most of the regular season with an injury, and Lyudmila Belyakova put together a 2 on 1, which was broken only by a superhuman backcheck from Blake Bolden. Unfortunately, the Pride scored three at even strength in the second, with goals from Amanda Pelkey, another from Decker, and a first of the playoffs from league leader Hilary Knight. Essentially, the Pride looked like what they are: a lethal combination of skill, chemistry, and experience who plan to go all the way.
Strange as it may seem, the good news of the night for the Riveters was the third period, when, historically, they have tended to give up close games, or let bad ones get worse. In this final third, however, the team, backstopped by Scrivens, held off the Pride until the final two minutes, when they once again capitalized on the power play after Beth Hanrahan went off for slashing. Even though Brittany Ott earned the NWHL's first shutout, Scrivens had the save of the night, when she totally robbed Kelley Cooke by whipping her shot out of thin air with a quick glove save.
Tonight, the Riveters need to shake off this score, stay out of the box, and give Ott a lot more trouble. Two of their four wins this season were against the Pride, so they've done it before. Now would be a really good time to do it again.