To make the playoffs, PWHL Ottawa needs to start scoring OT goals

Heading into Sunday afternoon’s road tilt against Montreal, the squad representing Canada’s capital is 0-5 In games extending beyond three periods.

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The reason PWHL Ottawa is currently on the outside of the playoff picture looking in can be easily spotted with a glance at the standings.

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Its overtime record sticks out like a sore thumb … that is pointing down.

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Ottawa is the only team in the league that has not won in overtime.

Heading into Sunday afternoon’s road tilt against Montreal (4 p.m., Sportsnet), the squad representing Canada’s capital is 0-5 In games extending beyond three periods.

Ottawa is 0-3 against Montreal this season, with the first two defeats coming in overtime and the most recent, on Feb. 24 at the Verdun Auditorium, being a 6-3 flop that was Ottawa’s worst loss of the season.

An overtime loss would have been welcomed that day.

An overtime loss is still worth a point, while a win in the extra session is worth two.

It means that, even with a 2-3 OT record, Ottawa would have 19 points instead of 17.

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And that would put it in the fourth and last playoff spot, one ahead of Boston.

The problem isn’t a lack of offence.

Ottawa is third in the Goals For category with 37, behind only Toronto (43) and Montreal (39), both of which have played one more game.

No, the problem is failing to come through when the next goal wins.

“I don’t think it’s a mental block for us right now, to be honest,” captain Brianne Jenner said when asked if it was just that. “I think our last overtime (Tuesday in Minnesota) was by far our best of the season. I think we had a lot of chances to score. I think we were probably the better team in that overtime. So it’s trending in the right direction.

“I don’t think it’s in our head.”

Against Minnesota, Ottawa didn’t give up an overtime goal for the first time in that situation. But it was outshot 5-2 in overtime before losing its first shootout.

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The only reason Ottawa didn’t come home completely empty-handed was the play of backup goalie Sandra Abstreiter, who stopped 43 of 46 shots on the night.

Jenner isn’t the only one who thought Ottawa’s last OT showing was its best.

“Those overtimes,” assistant coach Hayley Irwin started, sounding like she wanted to insert a “darn” or worse between the two words. “I think they were early in our season, when we were, you know, getting into those situations and falling short on them. But I think our group has grown a lot since then.

“Sometimes it’s a mental hurdle, and sometimes it’s learning the 3-on-3 game that many haven’t played or haven’t played enough of. But I think our group is in a much better position now to head into overtime, as we saw in Minnesota.”

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It is true that four of the overtime losses were in the team’s first seven games, but Tuesday’s setback was the third time Ottawa held a third-period lead and let it slip away.

“I think we just need to stay consistent in the details that get us to the third period,” Irwin said. “So how we start our games and how we finish them, we just we want to close the gap a little bit on our consistency in that and making sure that our details are there throughout the 60 minutes.

“Our game is aggressive, so playing to our details would be staying to those things. If we’re not, that’s not our game. So we want to make sure that we’re playing our game through through the entire time.”

Jenner said it was “challenging” to come close only to lose those games.

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“But I do really feel like we’re in a good place because of our mindset,” she added. “I think we’re taking this whole journey and learning as we go, and tweaking things. There’s a lot of confidence in this room, that we can kind of find that missing piece to close games. I think we have the ability. I think we’re just right now just embracing the challenge.”

The team recognizes it has to manage games better. It’s been a topic of conversation since the start of the season.

“Our coaches are talking to us about puck management,” Jenner said. “Just keeping that sort consistency. Pretty much every game we do a lot of really good things, but, if you have a lapse and just kind of don’t take care of the puck, or if we have a bad change, things like that can really hurt you in this league. I think that’s sort of a piece that we’re focused on right now.”

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Jenner also knows that she has to start scoring more in general.

The most decorated player on PWHL Ottawa, she has just two goals in 15 games.

Six teammates have more, including Katerina Mrazova and Gabbie Hughes, who are tied for the club lead with six.

“Definitely not satisfied,” Jenner said when asked how she felt about her game so far this season. “I want to be able to help my team win. So, just kind of focusing on what I can control, how I compete. I think like to put a few more of those chances that I’ve had in, which is often the case when you’re looking back at your own game and you’re a big critic. So, yeah, I definitely want to kind of find a way to to help my team and you know, part of that is on the offensive side for sure.”

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