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PWHL Minnesota beats Boston 3-0 to take Game 2 of Walter Cup finals

PWHL Minnesota doesn't have a hierarchy in goal. Coach Ken Klee views Maddie Rooney and Nicole Hensley as equals, two No. 1 goaltenders he can count on at all times.

On Tuesday night, Hensley got back in the net for the first time since the team's playoff opener. She responded with her first shutout of the postseason, as Minnesota beat PWHL Boston 3-0 in Game 2 of the Walter Cup finals. The victory at Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell evened the best-of-five series at one game each.

The split in Boston shifts home-ice advantage to Minnesota, which hosts Game 3 on Friday and Game 4 on Sunday at Xcel Energy Center.

Hensley stopped all 20 shots she faced to hand Boston its first loss of the postseason. She got outstanding support from Minnesota's drastically improved penalty kill, which held firm through four Boston power-play chances in the game's final 26 minutes. Michela Cava and Sophie Jaques supplied first-period goals, and Jaques added an empty-netter.

Rooney's three-game playoff winning streak ended with Minnesota's 4-3 loss in Sunday's Game 1. Klee said it was tough to take her out, but he wanted Hensley to get another chance after a 4-0 loss in the semifinal opener against Toronto.

"All year, we've rotated back and forth,'' Klee said. "Maddie got hot in the first round, but we knew we could go back to Nicole at any point and she would be ready to go. And she played fantastic.''

BOXSCORE: PWHL Minnesota 3, Boston 0

Boston won its first four playoff games, sweeping Montreal in the semifinals before beating Minnesota in the finals opener. The loss ended Boston's six-game winning streak at Tsongas Center.

Early in the game, Boston outshot Minnesota 6-2, holding it without a shot on goal for a span of nearly 11 minutes in the first period. Minnesota broke that drought with the winning goal. Cava tried to pass to Kendall Coyne Schofield on a two-on-one, but the puck hit the stick of Boston defender Megan Keller and jumped over goalie Aerin Frankel.

Minnesota doubled its lead less than two minutes later, as Jaques beat Frankel on the glove side from the right circle.

Boston put the puck in the net at 2 minutes, 20 seconds of the second period, but Jess Healey's goal was waved off because of goaltender interference. Klee and Boston coach Courtney Kessel both heard the official's whistle before the goal was scored, though Kessel said she thought the whistle was blown too soon.

She was more upset with Boston's failure to score on four consecutive power plays, including one with less than five minutes left in the game. Boston managed only two shots on goal against the Minnesota penalty kill, which is 14-for-14 in the playoffs after finishing at the bottom of the league in the regular season.

"Obviously, something has to change," Kessel said. "It's going to be the death of us if we can't put a puck in the net on the power play."

The retooled penalty kill, and Hensley's strong performance after a 12-day layoff, ensured Minnesota would reach Klee's goal of a split in Boston. He's glad to be heading home after six days on the road, but the series won't get any easier.

"We can't let off the gas," he said. "We know [Boston] is going to push back. We still have to win two more games before they do, and that's our focus."

The Star Tribune did not send the writer of this article to the game. This was written using a broadcast, interviews and other material.