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Toronto uses strong start to sweep Les Canadiennes

Three Toronto goals in the first seven minutes proved too big a hole for Montreal

Chris Tanouye/CWHL

Les Canadiennes de Montréal are not a team well acquainted with losing. In fact, you would need to turn the clock back to March 1, 2015 to find the last time this team suffered consecutive losses.

After a 2-1 defeat in Saturday night’s matchup against the Toronto Furies, Montreal failed to get the win for a second straight game, falling 5-2, after allowing three goals in only six minutes into first period.

Montreal veteran Julie Chu returned to the lineup after missing Saturday’s game, due to her commitment to Concordia University. They remained without the help of their league-leading goaltender, Charline Labonté who did not make the trip to Toronto for family reasons. Chu replaced Sophie Brault in the lineup.

Having been outshot 28-18 on Saturday in one of their poorer contests of the last few years, Montreal’s first period in Sunday’s matinee game was not the greatest illustration of a team that wanted to turn things around. At least not if Toronto forward Julie Allen had anything to say about it.

Allen proved to have a hot stick in the first period, notching three points (two goals, one assist) in the opening 20 minutes. Less than 90 seconds into the frame, Michaela Cava would bank an Allen pass past Catherine Herron. Not satisfied with a one goal lead, Toronto continued their offensive pressure, and Allen would then bury Toronto’s second goal in Montreal’s net before another 90 seconds could expire.

It was then when Les Canadiennes seemed to lose sight of themselves, as a parade of four Montreal skaters would make their way to the penalty box over the course of the period’s remaining 17 minutes. Julie Allen of course, would waste no time in making it 3-0 just after the six minute mark as Montreal’s Emmanuelle Blais served a two minute cross-checking penalty.

It was Montreal netminder Catherine Herron (along with some timely defensive efforts on the penalty kill) who kept Les Canadiennes afloat by remaining perfect for the next 50 minutes of play.

In a fast paced second period, Julie Chu sent the puck over to her defence partner Lauriane Rougeau who would net one to get Montreal on the scoreboard seconds after a power play expired.

A late penalty with no time left on the clock in the second period by Jenelle Kohanchuk gave Montreal another boost in their comeback attempt.

Noémie Marin would score on the power play and would then give them a momentum shift as they kept Toronto hemmed in their zone for a sizeable chunk of the final period, pouring on a total of 15 shots on goalie Christina Kessler in an attempt to tie the game.

But despite Montreal’s best efforts, Kessler would remain solid for the remainder of the game, and her team would go on to score two late goals — the latter coming on an empty net to make it 5-2 for Toronto with 52 seconds remaining.

Now having fallen twice in eight games, Les Canadiennes have dropped to second place with 12 points, trailing behind the near-perfect Calgary Inferno who notched two points this weekend, splitting their series against the Brampton Thunder.

Montreal will have a shot at redemption next weekend when they return home to face off against the Thunder, who are 2-5-0 in their first eight games of the season.

Next Saturday and Sunday’s games will be played at Complexe Bell in Brossard and Centre Etienne-Desmarteau respectively. Tickets for both games can be purchased here.