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Les Canadiennes’ top line continues dominance in win vs. Toronto

Montreal’s best players continue to lead the way.

Anne-Marie Pellerin / CWHL

Les Canadiennes only had the one game this weekend, and they made it count, beating the visiting Toronto Furies 4-1 on Saturday afternoon at the Caroline Ouellette rink at the Etienne Desmarteau Centre.

It was Montreal’s fifth and final meeting with the Furies, winning all five, and outscoring them by a 21-5 margin.

The home squad got on the board early, when Montreal (18-5-0-1) had their top line of Ann-Sophie Bettez, Marie-Phillip Poulin and Jill Saulnier connect yet again. Bettez completed the play and scored her 17th of the season past Furies goaltender Elaine Chuli just 3:27 into the contest.

For Bettez, recently named to Team Canada, it was her 44th point of the season, equalizing her career-high, set back in the 2015-16 Canadian Women’s Hockey League season.

A few moments later, Toronto forward Sarah Nurse had a glorious chance in front, beating Les Canadiennes goaltender Emerance Maschmeyer, but not the crossbar, keeping it a one goal advantage for Montreal.

Maschmeyer stopped 25 Toronto shots en route to her league-leading 14th win of the season, including all five against the Furies.

“Today was a very important game for us, we had to continue [from last weekend] to this one,” said Maschmeyer. “An important thing for us was to get a good 60 minutes in, but I think getting the win this weekend and have that going forward, because there’s only a few games left.”

The middle frame went a lot faster than the first, with a lot of back and forth play, each getting their own set of chances, but both Maschmeyer and Chuli stood their grounds. Each team had their own power play, but neither capitalized.

It wasn’t until the last minute of the period when Les Canadiennes captain Poulin was alone in front of the net, and wired her 23rd of the campaign just under Chuli’s blocker, in what would eventually be the game winning goal.

With the assist on Bettez’s goal earlier, Poulin notched her 15th multi-point game of the season.

“I think it was definitely a team success, every time we play them we know they have a great team,” said Poulin. “It was a tight game, but we have a great team, from the goalie-defence out, so it was a good team effort.”

In the middle of the third, with the score still 2-0 Montreal, they found themselves killing off an Erin Ambrose interference minor when forward Kim Deschenes’ long shot into the zone somehow caught Chuli off guard, and wound up in the back of the net for her fourth.

Moments later, it was Toronto’s turn to finally solve Maschmeyer, when Furies captain Natalie Spooner found an empty cage and buried the puck for her 13th of the season, scored also shorthanded.

Forward Karell Emard got a goal 25 seconds after Spooner’s tally, with a Deschênes shot getting a giant rebound right in front of the net, and making no mistake for her fifth goal of the season.

The win propels Montreal into a tie with the Calgary Inferno for 37 points, both with 18 wins, with the Inferno playing one less game due to their postponed game Saturday afternoon versus the Worcester Blades. Calgary will play Sunday afternoon, so it appears that they may surpass Montreal again.

“Moving forward towards the playoffs, it’s the best time for the girls to really continue to work on their off ice game, and their own personal game,” said associate coach Danielle Sauvageau. “Some of the girls won’t be there next weekend in [Worcester], so like I told them, ‘We’ll separate for a week, but be back together in two’.”

Next weekend while most of the team travels to Worcester for back-to-back games against the last-place Blades, they will be missing a few key players due to the Rivalry Series, a three game series between Canada and the USA, taking place between February 12-17.

Bettez, Poulin, Saulnier, Ambrose and both goaltenders Maschmeyer and Genevieve Lacasse will all be representing Canada. Hilary Knight will be representing the United States.

With these players being out, Sauvageau points out the roster will be okay, as the team will be calling up Kayla Tutino and between the pipes, they’ll be adding Maude Nicol to the roster, likely to back up Marie-Soleil Deschênes.