LOWELL, Mass. — PWHL Boston returned from the three-week break for the IIHF World Women’s Championship tournament five points behind PWHL Ottawa for the fourth and final playoff spot.

Boston gained a valuable three points when they defeated PWHL Toronto, 2-1, on Thursday night at Tsongas Center, closing the gap to two points with four games remaining in the regular season. In a way, the playoffs have already started for three of the PWHL franchises — Boston, Ottawa, and New York; because they are all vying for that final spot.

“As a team, we assess what success is,” PWHL Boston coach Courtney Kessel told reporters following her team’s win. “I think at some point in your season, you’re scared to lose, right? I think we were playing like that a little bit and we were losing because you can’t play scared to lose. So, the mentality for tonight was for 60 minutes we just played to win.”

With seven PWHL Boston players and Kessel representing their countries in the IIHF World Women’s Championship, the team only had one practice after a 24-day hiatus before hosting the best team in the league.

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“I really think the break is, it’s a metal reset for everyone involved,” Kessel said. “(We headed) into (the) break not doing great and I think it’s just like a refresh. It’s not over, we have five games heading into (the Toronto game). A couple of video sessions can do the trick, just as much as practice can, and sometimes even better, to get those legs rested. It was a nice reset.”

Boston forward Jamie Lee Rattray liked how her team responded coming out of the long break.

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“It was a pretty hard-fought game. I think our team played with a lot of urgency,” Rattray said. “We have a big run of games here, and I’m really proud of how everyone chipped in and played the right way. I think we really showed each other that when we play that way, we can win some big games. It was a lot of fun.”

Boston will be back in action Saturday when it faces New York, which trails Boston by five points in the standings.

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“Just take one game at a time and focus on our next opponent,” Rattray said. “It is playoff time for us now. Also, for us too, playing some meaningful games down the stretch and once we get in (to the playoffs) can be really useful for our group.”

Puck drop for the Boston-New York tilt from the Prudential Center is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET, and you can watch the game on NESN+.

Featured image via PWHL