PWHL Minnesota enters Game 5 looking to complete turnaround

Considering how flat Minnesota looked to open the PWHL playoffs, Toronto fans probably never expected their first-round, best-of-five series to go the distance.

After falling behind in the series 2-0 — without scoring a single goal in either game — Minnesota was sitting on a seven-game losing streak and hadn't won a game since March 24.

But that same team charges into Friday's decisive Game 5 at Toronto's Coca-Cola Coliseum after two wins at home, including Wednesday's 1-0, double-overtime thriller in Game 4. Fans can watch these playoff games live on Bally Sports North or on the PWHL's YouTube page.

Game 4 offered a template for how Minnesota could upend top-seed Toronto and advance to play Boston for the Walter Cup.

"Our first and third periods were exactly how we need to play," said Claire Butorac, scorer of Wednesday's game-winning goal. "We played to our assets of being a fast team and a strong team."

In turn, Butorac's goal on the doorstep provided Toronto some insight into playoff success. While coach Troy Ryan felt his team's effort was much better in Game 4, he is looking for something grittier.

"In the playoffs, you've probably got to work a little more to get some of those greasy kinds of goals," Ryan said. "There were a few opportunities where I thought we could have buried our shoulder, widened out our stance and drove the puck toward the blue paint."

A fast start was also a point of emphasis following Wednesday's game.

"We need to be on our toes from the start of the game," Toronto defender Renata Fast said. "As soon as we were playing with that attack mentality and we were getting pucks below their goal line, we created chances. We need to put pressure on them and get them on their heels early."

Toronto native Sophie Jaques, a defender acquired by Minnesota via trade with Boston earlier this season, is headed home. She's already hearing from family and friends.

"They were debating coming here [for Game 4 at the Xcel Energy Center]," said Jaques, pronounced Jacks. "When they didn't come, they said, 'Well, you better make it to Game 5 now so we can watch you again.'"

Toronto and Minnesota share the urgency that comes with a win-or-go-home scenario. Even with two consecutive victories, the pressure shifts to Minnesota to score its first postseason goal away from home.

"We're confident in how we're playing right now," Butorac said. "Game 2 was a good showcase of how we can play on the road. I think it's about taking the momentum from the last two games with us up there and really giving it all we can."