Marie-Philip Poulin knows how to rise to the occasion.
With over 2,000 fans packed into the Centre Sportif Lacroix-Dutil in Saint-Georges de Beauce, the captain had three goals and two assists and was named the first star in Les Canadiennes 11-0 win over the Boston Blades on Saturday.
The teams squared off for the first time this season. Netminder Charline Labonté earned her first shutout of the campaign, though it might be one of the easier shutouts of her career, as she only faced 11 shots.
Right from the opening faceoff, it was clear who the first star of the game would be. Poulin grew up 20 minutes away in Beauceville, and this weekend’s series is somewhat of a homecoming for her. Montreal scored on that first shift, 15 seconds into the game. Poulin got an assist on Ann-Sophie Bettez’s goal.
“It’s so special every time I come back here,” Poulin said. “The people that surrounded me: my family, my friends ... I think it just shows the support I have every time I come back here.”
Her second goal, a short-handed give-and-go from Caroline Ouellette, might have been one of her nicest goals of the season. Poulin leads the league in scoring with six goals and six assists in five games.
Defender Julie Chu scored her first goal of the season: a power-play marker near the midway point of the first period. Karell Emard scored her first of the year, also on the power play, unassisted in the third.
Coming into the contest, Montreal’s power play was an area of concern for the team. Les Canadiennes only scored once in 11 tries in their previous four games, placing them fourth in the league in terms of power-play efficiency. The three power-play goals they potted last night bumps them back up to the first in the CWHL, a position they held last season.
The Blades display that they continue to improve, and there were positives to take away. Captain Tara Watchorn was back in the lineup, playing in just her second game of the season. While goalie Lauren Dahm got the hook after giving up seven goals, newly acquired Jetta Rackleff proved to be a more-than-adequate backup. Rackleff was acquired by Boston in a trade on Friday from the Brampton Thunder.
Boston lost Geneviève Lacasse, who was traded to the Calgary Inferno in the off-season.
2016 first-overall pick and Montreal native, Kayla Tutino, was also a joy to watch, giving Boston perhaps their best scoring chance of the game when she fired a rocket right into Labonté’s chest, then scooped up the rebound to wrap around the back of the net, trying to squeeze it over the goal line.
The game was also a chippy affair typical of any Montreal-Boston game on the ice. Montreal’s Sophie Brault took a roughing penalty when she clotheslined Nicole Giannino early in the third, and Sarah Lefort (who had a goal and two assists) also delivered a punishing hit late in the game.
Ouellette, Jordanna Peroff, Noémie Marin, and Kim Deschênes had the other goals for Montreal. Cathy Chartrand had three assists.
Les Canadiennes and the Blades will hit the ice for a rematch at 1:30 PM EST on Sunday, also in Saint-Georges. Ouellette knows Montreal can’t afford to take their opponent lightly.
“Tomorrow is a new day, and you never know in this league,” she said after the game. “Sometimes there are high scores and then the next day it’s very close so we have to come back and be ready [Sunday] to have the same kind of performance.”
Rookie defender Brittney Fouracres missed the game with an illness.