Laurence Beaulieu didn't know if she'd ever score a goal in the CWHL.
“Honestly I told myself it's possible I would never score a goal,” she said after the game where her first career CWHL goal gave Les Canadiennes a 3-2 lead they wouldn't relinquish in an eventual 5-3 victory over the Kunlun Red Star at the Michel-Normandin Arena on Sunday.
“I'm a defensive defender so if the other team doesn't score, I did my job. If people don't recognize me in the stands it means I played well but I scored and I'm so happy and I already surpassed my expectations when it comes to statistics,” she said laughing.
The rookie out of the University of Montreal scored in her sixth CWHL game, and it took a while for it to sink in. Beaulieu had five goals in her 60-game university career.
“I was just surprised,” she said. “I don't score goals often. When I came in, everyone had their arms in the air and I said 'Oh my God I actually scored!'”
Beaulieu scored with a wrist shot after a zone entry and pass from Karell Emard just over three minutes after Kunlun tied the game up at 2-2 in the second period.
Montreal jumped out to an early lead, scoring just 35 seconds into the game when Melanie Desrochers shot from the right half-boards and beat Kunlun goaltender Yuqing Wang.
“We had a good team meeting before the game,” said Emard. “The main point was team effort. We've had in our previous games good individual plays and today was to put it all together. We were talking a lot more, a lot more energy. We were frustrated [with Saturday] and we needed to wake up.”
Then, 7:17 into the game, Les Canadiennes finally broke the ice with a power play goal when Noémie Marin broke down the right wing and then cut to the slot before sliding the puck past Wang. Montreal was 0/6 on the power play in Saturday’s game.
“I think it releases some pressure when we score on the power play... Today we wanted to make sure that we created some good chances,” said Marin.
Wang, making her second career CWHL start and second in two days, would be pulled after the second goal after making just one save on the three shots. Backup Siye He made 27 of 30 saves in relief in her CWHL debut, and managed to settle down her team.
Just 36 seconds after Marin made it 2-0, Madison Woo finished a perfectly played two-on-one on a pass from Jessica Wong to make it 2-1.
Kunlun would tie the game at 2-2 when Melanie Jue would score her second goal in as many days with Wong picking up another assist.
After Beaulieu's goal, Marin would score her second of the game to give Montreal a 4-2 lead.
Marin's three-point game moved her six points away from Jayna Hefford for second in CWHL history. Her two goals moved her within 12 of the CHWL all-time goals record which is held by Hefford and Caroline Ouellette.
Ann-Sophie Bettez would make the score 5-2 early in the third period, but once again Kunlun would fight back with Kelli Stack scoring her fifth goal of the season on a beautiful individual rush to make it 5-3.
Catherine Herron got the start for Montreal, one day after Emerance Maschmeyer picked up the loss at the Bell Centre. Herron made 25 saves in the win.
With the win, Les Canadiennes head coach Dany Brunet became the CWHL's all-time leader in regular season coaching wins with his 76th win.
“It's simple. When you have the privilege to lead great players, it's possible you become the coach with the most wins,” Brunet said, admitting he had no idea he was close to the record. “This is my fifth year with the organization and we win around 20 games a year and to win games you need great players and if I've reached that mark it's because of that.”
Brunet has one Clarkson Cup championship and one coach of the year award.
The two teams play the rubber match of their three-game series on Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m. at the Michel-Normandin arena at the Claude Robillard Sports Complex. Tuesday's game features discounted tickets, beer and hot dogs for students with a valid Student ID card.
It is Montreal's last game until December 2, and last home game until December 9.