The scoreline wasn't what it was in the first two games of the series, but Les Canadiennes got the three-game sweep against the Vanke Rays on Tuesday night at the Michel Normandin arena with a 2-0 win.
“At the professional level when you play a game where you lose 14-0, you always see a better performance from the other team, it's normal and they're pros” said Montreal head coach Dany Brunet. “We expected that they would play a much tighter game and they would show up [Tuesday].”
Elaine Chuli was a big reason why. The rookie goaltender made 38 saves for the Rays, including several tough ones. Chuli played only 10:09, allowing two goals off the bench in their 14-0 loss on Sunday as coach Rob Morgan tried his best to get her two full days off before Tuesday's game saying that she has been “banged up.”
The first period was scoreless despite the Rays getting 51 seconds of five-on-three time. They couldn't really test Maschmeyer with the power play as Les Canadiennes kept them to the outside. Montreal tested Chuli a couple of times, including Noémie Marin getting a chance in the slot.
Chuli came up big again in the second period. Early in the frame, Sarah Lefort - coming off a five goal, six point day on Sunday - powered around the Rays defence to create a two-on-one with Ann-Sophie Bettez. Lefort fed Bettez, but Chuli came up with a big save. She made another one with her glove a few minutes later when Karell Emard found Katia Clement-Heydra in close.
Seconds after that save, Montreal finally a way to beat Chuli. Erin Ambrose took a shot from the point that was deflected by Emmanuelle Blais and into the net. It was Blais' fourth goal of the season but third in three games. All three have been assisted by Caroline Ouellette.
It was the third goal in two games that went in off of a deflection of an Ambrose shot.
“We have so many good players with sticks in front, and bodies in front whether I put them in or somebody else is, just getting those pucks to the net is important and I need to become more of a threat to shoot,” Ambrose said.
Ambrose has one goal and nine assists and is tied for fourth in CWHL scoring among defenders despite playing only nine games. One of the players ahead of her, the Rays’ Ashleigh Brykaliuk has played several games at forward, including all three games this weekend.
With six minutes remaining in the second period, Maschmeyer had her chance to step up for her team. Hanna Bunton broke in on a breakaway, but could not beat the Montreal goaltender. Maschmeyer made 20 saves for her second straight shutout. She leads the CWHL with 14 wins (in 16 games) and is second among starting goaltenders with a 1.63 goals against average, a .929 save percentage and four shutouts.
Just 2:31 into the third period, Montreal doubled their lead. Cathy Chartrand's shot was tipped by Marin for her 13th goal of the season and 128th of her career. Ouellette picked up her second assist of the night on the goal, her fourth in three games since returning from a leave of absence to give birth to her daughter.
“There’s nothing you could do about the past, but right now today we could do something special,” said Morgan. “We wanted to win this game today. We got beat by two great point shots with traffic in front... Otherwise it’s a very, very close game.”
The final minute would not be without some drama. The Rays pulled Chuli for the extra attacker, and Ouellette, looking for her record-breaking 131st career CWHL goal had two shifts. She would come close to getting a chance, but couldn't get a shot on the net and the record will have to wait.
Of note, her teammate Marin is just two goals away from tying Ouellette and Jayna Hefford for top spot and a hat trick away from setting the record herself.
Les Canadiennes play next this weekend as they travel to Boston for two games against the last-place Blades.
Boston plays the league-leading Kunlun Red Star on Thursday night.
- Montreal backup goaltender Catherine Herron took part in warmup but left early after taking an awkward fall and did not dress for the game. Marie-Soleil Deschênes was Maschmeyer's backup for the game.
- Cassandra Poudrier missed her second game after leaving Saturday's game in the second period. Nachi Fujimoto replaced her once again.
- Lore Baudrit and Erinn Noseworthy were scratched by the Canadiennes with the return of Ouellette and Kim Deschênes this weekend.
- Two-time Clarkson Cup champion Jordanna Peroff played her 100th career CWHL game on Tuesday.