Less than 24 hours after Les Canadiennes lost to the Calgary Inferno by a score of 5-4, the two teams were back in action against one another at the Complexe Sportif Bell in Brossard on Sunday afternoon.
Jill Saulnier and Ann-Sophie Bettez each picked up two points in the Canadiennes’ 3-0 victory over the Inferno, while Marie-Philip Poulin picked up two goals and an assist. Goaltender Emerance Maschmeyer turned away 24 shots for the shutout.
A goaltending battle between Maschmeyer — who was named the game’s first star — and Calgary’s Alex Rigsby emerged quickly in the first period, and continued for the rest of the game. An early powerplay gave the Canadiennes the opportunity to get on the board in the opening minutes of the game, but Rigsby made the necessary saves and the Calgary defenders blocked several shots to keep the score tied at zero.
Maschmeyer robbed her former team of a goal with 7:08 remaining in the first and frustrated the Inferno by doing the splits to get just enough of the puck on her glove, and by quickly corralling the rebound to end the play. Her performance in the first period allowed the Canadiennes to head into the intermission with a 1-0 lead, as Saulnier backhanded her 10th of the season by Rigsby in the final minute of play with assists from Bettez and Poulin.
Poulin netted a goal of her own in the opening minute of the second period to give her team a 2-0 lead, this time with Saulnier and Bettez picking up the assists. The Canadiennes largely dominated the second period, outshooting the Inferno 15-9 and pressuring them to take two penalties, though no goals were scored on the power plays.
“For the first 40 minutes we didn’t give them much,” explained head coach Caroline Ouellette after the game. “We boxed them out well, we played physical, and [Maschmeyer] was able to see the puck.”
The Inferno had their first go at the powerplay almost halfway through the third period, giving them with the chance to get back in the game at a crucial moment. Though they hit the post while Melanie Desrochers was in the box for hooking, they were unable to get the puck by Maschmeyer.
Rigsby headed to the Calgary bench in favour of the extra attacker with two and a half minutes left in the third period, which paved the way for Poulin’s second goal of the game in the empty net and secured Montreal’s 3-0 victory.
“It feels great,” said Maschmeyer in reference to her shutout after the game. “Obviously I know a lot of those girls over there, so it feels good shutting them out and seeing them frustrated. Obviously they were happy after yesterday and the last two games before that where they won too, so it feels great to beat them.”
On Saturday, the two teams engaged in a back-and-forth affair that came down to the final seconds.
Les Canadiennes opened a 2-0 lead as Hilary Knight and Ann-Sophie Bettez scored within 1:36 of each other but Calgary came roaring back with three goals before the end of the first period to take a 3-2 lead, scoring three times on Canadiennes goaltender Geneviève Lacasse.
Calgary would make it 4-2 in the second period, but Poulin scored her first of two goals before the end of the period.
Blayre Turnbull scored what was eventually the game-winning goal with six minutes remaining in the game but Montreal would make it interesting. Poulin scored her second of the game with 2:59 left and then drew a penalty when she was hauled down by Rebecca Johnston 45 seconds later.
Montreal’s power play would generate some chances with the 6-on-4 advantage but would not be able to get the tying goal.
Despite getting her first loss in her third start of the year, Lacasse had what could be considered one of the saves of the year.
The two teams remain in the top two spots in the CWHL and have both essentially clinched home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Calgary remains two points ahead of Montreal for top spot. Both teams have five games remaining.