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Les Canadiennes roll over Thunder in weekend sweep

It was a statement weekend for the Fabs against the defending champions.

Shanna Martin / CWHL

The word ‘revenge’ wasn’t one that was said in Les Canadiennes locker room before their weekend sweep of the Markham Thunder, the team that eliminated them in last year’s playoffs.

But much like the statement the Canadiennes sent to the rest of the league, it wasn’t the words that mattered at all. It was the actions.

Montreal outscored Markham, the defending Clarkson Cup champions, 12-2 over the two games, handing the Thunder their first regular season or playoff losses since January.

“Personally I thought about getting some revenge,” Canadiennes head coach Dany Brunet said. “We didn’t focus on it as a team but I don’t think I was the only one to think about it.”

“It was a tough ending to last year,” said Montreal goaltender Emerance Maschmeyer, who played both playoff games last year and won both games this weekend. “We ended the league year on top but to lose first round it stung. There’s a long time between last game and this game so it was important for us to come out strong and I know we have a pretty new group but I think they understood it was important to win these games.”

Saturday, W 5-1

After scoring only three goals over their first two games, you figured it was only a matter of time before Montreal's talented forwards converted on their chances.

Jill Saulnier had two goals and added an assist as Les Canadiennes finally got the chances to turn into goals

“Sometimes when you can’t get some you just feel a little bit snake bitten,” Saulnier said. “Today it was good to get the flow going and you’re able to get a couple in and they just kept on rolling and it’s a good feeling.”

Montreal opened the scoring at 10:11 of the first period when Hilary Knight scored her first goal as a Canadienne. The loose puck found her at the left circle and she made no mistake with it.

A fast and furious start to the second period saw three goals scored in just 1:35. First, Mélodie Daoust scored on a rebound from a Marie-Joelle Allard shot to make it 2-0 Montreal at 3:56 of the second period.

Then Saulnier scored her first of two in the game just 31 seconds later on a gorgeous backhand that went right over Erica Howe and in the top corner despite not having much space to get it off.

Markham would make it 3-1 at 5:29 of the period when Jenna McParland scored.

Montreal would get a fourth goal before the period ended when Geneviève Bannon, the team’s first pick in the 2018 Draft scored her first CWHL goal in her first CWHL game after sitting out both games last weekend.

Saulnier added her second highlight reel goal early in the third period on a turnaround shot that went top corner from the slot. It was Montreal’s first power play goal of the season.

Maschmeyer wasn’t tested much, but made 19 saves for Montreal, including a couple of big saves on rookie Victoria Bach. Erica Howe made 31 saves for Markham.

Three Stars:
1. Jill Saulnier (2 goals, 1 assist)
2. Emerance Maschmeyer (19 saves)
3. Katia Clement-Heydra (1 assist)

Sunday, W 7-1

After the line of Jill Saulnier, Hilary Knight, and Sarah Lefort combined for three goals the previous day, it was the line of Mélodie Daoust, Ann-Sophie Bettez, and Marie-Philip Poulin who combined for four goals in the 7-1 win.

“We split up the games... Before the game we say ‘OK it’s your night so we sit back and relax’,” Daoust said, jokingly, about the two lines seemingly swapping productive games. “No,” she started more seriously. “It’s good because it proves that we have four good lines. We can roll four lines. There are some nights when it’s going to work more on one line than the others so we need to accept that and keep working hard from game to game.”

That isn’t to say Saulnier didn’t produce in this game either. It really was a four-line effort as Saulnier picked up her second first star of the game of the weekend with a goal and two assists. She is now the leading scorer in the CWHL with three goals and four assists on the season.

She opened the scoring at 11:50 of the first period when she broke in alone on Erica Howe and beat her with a backhand to make it 1-0.

That’s the way it stayed until early in the second period when Ann-Sophie Bettez scored her first of the year converting a two-on-one pass from Poulin to double the lead.

Daoust would score herself when she tipped an Erin Ambrose shot on the power play for that unit of Ambrose, Daoust, Poulin, Bettez, and Hilary Knight’s first goal of the season to make it 3-0.

Markham would pull it to 3-1 for the second straight game when Jamie Lee Rattray scored for the Thunder, but once again it would be Montreal who responded immediately.

Just over a minute after the Thunder goal, Jill Saulnier used her speed to create a shorthanded break. She was joined by the speedy Bettez and ended up creating a 2-on-0 rush. Saulnier’s pass was perfect, Bettez made no mistake on the shot, and it was 4-1.

Daoust added another power play goal 1:19 later.

In the third period, Kim Deschênes and Sarah Lefort would score (Lefort’s goal was also on the power play) to make it a 7-1 final.

Maschmeyer made 17 saves on 18 shots while Howe made 31 saves for Markham.

Three Stars:
1. Jill Saulnier (1 goal, 2 assists)
2. Ann-Sophie Bettez (2 goals)
3. Marie-Philip Poulin (3 assists)

Montreal’s next games are in Toronto as they will face the Toronto Furies for two games. It is their first road trip of the season. Saturday’s game will be streamed on CWHL Live.