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Marie-Philip Poulin shines brightest at CWHL All-Star Game

Team Black, led by Marie-Philip Poulin's two goals, captain Julie Chu and five other Canadiennes, took the CWHL All-Star Game 5-1

Shanna Martin

If this playing thing doesn't work out, maybe Julie Chu has a future in player evaluation.

Two of her draft picks combined for three goals in a 5-1 win for Chu's Team Black, led by two goals from Marie-Philip Poulin, the league's leading scorer and the 2016 CWHL All-Star Game's first star.

In total, Chu's team had seven Les Canadiennes members,including herself, although only two were selected by the captain. After the starting lineup, where she picked Poulin, Caroline Ouellette and Calgary's Jill Saulnier up front, the rest were selected by random stick selection. In addition to Poulin's two goals, Saulnier also scored a goal.

"I was sitting on the bench and then Poulin scored and I said 'alright, this is working out' and then Saulnier scored and Poulin scored again and Christina Kessler was amazing in goal," Chu said about her lineup selection.

Both of Poulin's goals came against her teammate, Canadiennes goaltender Charline Labonté. Both goals were on passes from Ouellette in the first period and put Team Black up 1-0 and 3-0. Saulnier scored the 2-0 goal after stealing the puck away from Team White's Dru Burns right in front of Labonté.

Poulin's first was a thing of beauty.

Early on, the goaltenders got the best of their league teammates. Kessler, who didn't allow a goal in her 30 minutes of action for Team Black, stopped Toronto Furies teammates and Team White captain Natalie SpoonerEmily Fulton, and Kelly Terry on multiple occasions. Labonté, besides allowing the two goals to Poulin, stopped Ann-Sophie Bettez as well.

"[Kessler] had my number tonight," said Spooner. "I guess she knows everywhere I shoot."

"I think the game would have been really different if Kessler wasn't standing on her head," said Chu.

There was some excitement midway through the first when Hayley Wickenheiser was called for throwing her stick in an attempt to stop Les Canadiennes forward Katia Clement-Heydra, who was the only skater from Montreal's CWHL club on Team White.

Clement-Heydra's penalty shot was unsuccessful as Kessler poked the puck away before she could get a shot away.

"I was just creating another chance to score. The fans we're starting to fall asleep, so I wanted to lighten things up," Wickenheiser joked. "I got my wrist slapped for that one, but it's OK."

"I don't want to talk about it," Clement-Heydra said laughing. "I don't know what happened there. If I could take it back, I would and probably try something else."

Jessica Campbell scored the lone White goal to make it 3-1 with under three minutes to go in the third period. And White kept pressing with two scoring chances from Fulton and Spooner that were both saved by Kessler's second-half replacement: Calgary's Delayne Brian.

Seconds after the save on Spooner, the puck was moved up ice and Wickenheiser scored on a two-on-one to make it 4-1 and put the game out of reach.

Montreal's Kim Deschênes tipped a Laura Fortino shot for the final goal of the game for Team Black past Boston's Geneviève Lacasse.

The other members of Les Canadiennes on Team Black were Cathy Chartrand and Lauriane Rougeau who were both in their second All-Star Game. Montreal, with nine players, had the most representatives from the league's five teams.

The game was watched by more than 5,000 fans at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

League action resumes next week when Montreal hosts the first-place Calgary Inferno. Calgary is two points ahead of Montreal, but Les Canadiennes have two games in hand.

The games will be played at the Centre Etienne Desmarteau in Montreal. The Saturday game is their annual Breast Cancer game with proceeds going to the Cedars Breast Clinic.