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Les Canadiennes finish turbulent week with pair of losses in Calgary

After a week that saw their coach step down, Montreal lost two close games vs. the Inferno.

Dave Holland / CWHL

Les Canadiennes found out earlier this week that their head coach Dany Brunet would be stepping down from his post, but they wouldn’t let that be an excuse for their 4-2 and 3-2 losses this weekend in Calgary.

“It’s something we have to deal with,” said Montreal defender Melanie Desrochers. “We have to stick together as a team. We found out and we move on.”

In Saturday’s game, the Canadiennes got off to a slow start and found themselves down 3-0 after only 20 minutes. They recovered in the second period, scoring twice and cutting the lead to 3-2 on goals from Mélodie Daoust and Ann-Sophie Bettez. That top line was great for Montreal all weekend, scoring all four of the Canadiennes goals.

Here Daoust and Bettez combine to cut the league down to one.

That was as close as the Canadiennes would come. They opened the third period on the power play, but Calgary broke away and scored a shorthanded goal (Rebecca Johnston’s second goal of the game) to make it 4-2. Emerance Maschmeyer made 27 saves for Montreal and Alex Rigsby made 19 for Calgary.

Not even 12 hours after the end of the first game, that started at 7:30 p.m. MST, the two teams were back on the ice at 10:30 a.m. MST. This time, Montreal got off to a better start. Goals from Bettez and Marie-Philip Poulin gave the Canadiennes a 2-0 lead. However, Calgary fought back with two goals of their own in the second period to make it 2-2 with another shorthanded goal - this time by Halli Krzyzaniak, and one from Zoe Hickel.

Then, in the third period the two teams looked like they were going to overtime until Blayre Turnbull scored with 25.8 seconds remaining to win the game for the Inferno.

Montreal was outshot 32-20 in Sunday’s game. Maschmeyer made 29 saves, and Rigsby made 18.

“When you have two very good teams, it comes down to a single play,” Desrochers said. “Momentum can swing quite quickly. We had some lapses on defence and they capitalized. Every game is a battle, but we have a team that can win.”

One of the many challenges facing the Canadiennes when going to Calgary is travelling on Saturday morning for a game that night, and the fact that the rink is an Olympic-sized rink, when Montreal practices on smaller NHL-sized rinks.

“[The weekend in Calgary] is always tough,” Desrochers said. “There’s the time change, the elevation change, the quick turnaround... it’s always a battle. Calgary is a good team, but so are we.”

Notes

  • Montreal and Calgary have one more two-game series this season. Montreal will host the two games on February 2 and 3.
  • Caroline Ouellette coached the two games in Calgary, becoming the second woman to coach games for the franchise. Nathalie Dery was 3-1-0 in 2012-13. The team said that they will name an interim coach. The timing will likely be within the next two weeks. Montreal hosts Worcester for two games this weekend, and heads to China in December as well, with their first game in Shenzhen on December 12.
  • Jill Saulnier missed her second straight weekend with an injury. There is no official word from the team on her status.
  • After Karell Emard played on Montreal’s second line with Katia Clement-Heydra and Hilary Knight last week, this weekend it was Tracy-Ann Lavigne and Olivia Atkinson who received time on that line, at least on Saturday. Emard played with Kim Deschenes and Sarah Lefort on the third line.