Looking to defend their first Clarkson Cup title since 2012, Les Canadiennes de Montréal took to the ice for the first time in the 2017-18 season with a new look, but with the same goal in mind: win.
Saturday evening at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard they did just that, beating the Boston Blades 5-2.
"I'm glad we got the ‘W’ tonight, and we just have to move forward with it," said goaltender Emerance Maschmeyer, making her first regular season start with Montreal. "I'm just focusing on being the best goaltender I can be, and that starts here."
Maschmeyer made 17/19 saves in her Canadiennes debut. Montreal outshot Boston 39-19.
After both teams exchanged minors in the opening period, the Blades caught a break. Shortly after the Montreal penalty expired, all four Montreal players battled for the puck, leaving forward Michelle Ng alone in front of Maschmeyer and put the visitors on the board first.
It was Ng’s first career goal in her first career CWHL game.
The lead didn't last long as just over five minutes later, Ann-Sophie Bettez potted her first of two on the game, on a nifty breakaway shorthanded to beat Blades goaltender Lauren Dahm.
After a seesaw first, the middle period was all Montreal. Bettez notched her second goal at 3:11, picking up a loose rebound and making no mistake. Less than three minutes later, second-year blueliner Melanie Desrochers took the puck from behind Dahm's net and stuffed it five-hole. The eventual game-winning goal was also her first career CWHL goal in her 11th career game.
"It feels really good, definitely gives you a lot of confidence," said a smiling Desrochers. "It's nice to contribute in a way other than moral support. I just drove the net, and it went in."
Bettez had several opportunities to complete her hat trick. In the second, she missed the net by mere inches as her shot sailed just wide of the top of the net in an opportunity similar to her first goal. In the final seconds, she hit the side of the net
"I was trying really hard, but you know that's when it doesn't happen," said Bettez, laughing. "But the two goals is a great start, and more important is that we won the game."
Veteran Karell Emard made the game 4-1 when she took a Kayla Tutino pass right in front of Dahm and made no mistake potting in the puck at 12:41, Montreal’s third goal of the period to make it 4-1.
The third period saw a couple of key saves by both goaltenders and it remained a three-goal game until Boston forward Kate Leary jammed in a puck past Maschmeyer to reduce the lead in half. Leary led Boston with 10 goals a year ago.
With just over five minutes left, with Les Canadiennes killing off another penalty, forward Kim Deschênes sent Tutino in on a shorthanded break. Tutino showed her former Blades teammates a beautiful side-to-side deke and backhand shot that went top corner past Dahm to seal the game at 5-2.
It was Tutino’s first career game for Les Canadiennes after being acquired from Boston this summer.
"It's not that it felt good, they're my former teammates and great people," said Tutino. "But obviously playing on the Montreal side it was really special to me because I'm from the area. I did it in practice, but it's harder to do it in the game, so I'm happy to get it in."
Besides the win, Les Canadiennes got a bonus from their short-handed play. They not only killed off of all seven Boston power plays, but they also scored two shorthanded goals.
"It's really important for us, because we know most times when you're on the power play and score that it's a huge turning point," said Bettez. "But we were very successful and able to score two shorthanded goals and it was huge for the momentum for the game, and for us."
Next up for Les Canadiennes is the second game of a back-to-back against the Blades later today at 1:30 at the Normandin Arena at the Claude Robillard Sports Complex.
Be sure to bring your own skates to the game as after the game, fans are invited to skate with Les Canadiennes in their post-game autograph and photo session.