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Canadiennes beat Thunder 3-1, split weekend series

The Canadiennes split the weekend series with the Thunder, bouncing back from a 4-0 shutout loss on Saturday to beat Brampton 3-1 Sunday afternoon.

CWHL/John Morrison

After being shut out by the Brampton Thunder 4-0 on Saturday, les Canadiennes came into Sunday afternoon's game looking to get on the board early. Brampton beat them to the punch though, as Rebecca Vint opened the scoring for the Thunder, beating Sydney Aveson on a feed from Laura McIntosh and Dania Simmonds.

Montreal responded by taking a penalty a few minutes later, as Ann-Sophie Bettez wound up in the box for slashing. When Kristen Richards took a two minute hooking penalty a few minutes later, though, les Canadiennes capitalized on the powerplay opportunity, and Karell Emard scored a powerplay goal (Noemie Marin and Cathy Chartrand picked up assists on the goal).

Brampton once again found themselves on the penalty kill, when Jamie Lee Rattray was penalized for tripping, and Montreal once again capitalized with the man advantage. Marie-Philip Poulin hard point shot found the back of the net for the 10th time this season (Julie Chu and Caroline Ouellette picked up the helper points).

The shot count was 16-6 at the end of the first, in favour of Montreal. Carly Hill was hit and fell rather awkwardly into the corner boards late in the first and needed to be helped off, but she was back on the bench to start the second period.

The two teams exchanged penalties throughout the second period, but ultimately neither team was able to score, with Aveson and Erica Howe (who made 39 saves in Brampton's win over Montreal Saturday) dueling one another. Brampton outshot Montreal 11-8 in the second period.

Brampton and Montreal started the third with offsetting penalties that Emard and Vint picked up after the final whistle in the second period. A few minutes after the penalties expired, Marin and Kim Deschenes set up Chu for a one timer that got past Howe, putting les Canadiennes up 3-1.

The Thunder then found themselves in some trouble when a pair of penalties forced them to play 5 on 3 twice in the third period. Brampton was able to kill off the penalties and keep Montreal at Bay, but the lack of discipline didn't do them any favours. The Thunder just couldn't get back in the game, despite pulling Howe and calling a timeout with 48 seconds left to play. Ultimately Brampton just wasn't able to overcome Montreal's two goal lead.

Aveson's strong performance in goal for Montreal bodes well, with starting netminder Charline Labonte sidelined this weekend with a lower body injury. If Labonte winds up being out for longer than just this weekend, les Canadiennes will need Aveson to step up and fill that starting role with confidence, and her performance this afternoon should do just that.

The Canadiennes split the weekend series with the Thunder, and Montreal's record improves to 8-2-0  to close out the year.

In theory, Montreal's next game in January 2nd in Brossard when they host the Boston Blades, but of course rumours continue to circulate about a potential CWHL/NWHL showdown at the NHL's Winter Classic, something that neither Canadiennes general manager Meg Hewings or CWHL commissioner Brenda Andress would confirm, both simply going with "no comment" when asked about a Canadiennes appearance at Gillette Stadium.

The Canadiennes' Twitter account made it pretty clear when Montreal's next game would be:

THREE STARS:

3 - Julie Chu (Montreal)

2 - Sara Edney (Brampton)

1 - Marie-Philip Poulin (Montreal)