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PWHL: Montreal enters break with shootout loss to Minnesota

Maureen Murphy had a goal and an assist in Sunday's loss. (Photo Credit: PWHL)

Taylor Heise and Grace Zumwinkle scored in the shootout as Minnesota defeated Montreal 3-2 in PWHL action at Xcel Energy Center on Sunday. Erin Ambrose scored the lone goal in the shootout for Montreal.

Maureen Murphy had a goal and an assist, Gabrielle David had two assists, and Kati Tabin scored her first PWHL goal for Montreal, who played their final game before the league takes a close-to three-week break for the IIHF Women’s World Championship. The loss was Montreal’s fourth straight defeat, but they broke their pointless streak after three regulation losses.

Montreal got off to a good start with Kati Tabin pouncing on a loose puck at the side of the net to score her first of the season. The goal gave Montreal their first lead during their current losing streak only 2:36 into the game.

They kept coming. Shortly after a great defensive play by Amanda Boulier, playing her first game since being acquired from Ottawa, David created a turnover when a Minnesota player lost her footing, then made a great feed to Murphy on a two-on-one. Murphy broke in on Nicole Hensley and beat her with a backhand to make it 2-0 less than six minutes into the game.

It was at that point that Montreal let their foot off the gas and let Minnesota build momentum. The goal from Murphy was the final shot the team would take for the remaining 14:07 of the period, including a short power play opportunity. The shots ended 15-5 after 20 minutes, with Elaine Chuli making sure it stayed 2-0.

Minnesota kept coming in the second period, with the goal of getting more traffic in front of the Montreal goaltender. It worked to perfection. Just 5:40 into the frame, Nicole Buchbinder’s shot hit off of Montreal forward Kristin O’Neill and beat Chuli. They tied the game 24 seconds later when Lee Stecklein’s shot went through traffic and Chuli to make it 2-2.

“I liked our killer instinct to start [the game],” said Montreal head coach Kori Cheverie. “I didn’t like our response.”

Before the midpoint of the period, they appeared to take the lead when Michela Cava deflected a shot past Chuli and in the net. The officials reviewed the play and it was ruled that it was tipped with a high stick, giving Montreal a reprieve.

Chuli came up big with a great save on Brooke Bryant, who was in all alone and tried a backhand shot that Chuli kept out with the blocker.

“What gave us success in the first period was keeping things simple and sticking to the game plan,” said Montreal forward Maureen Murphy. “In the second, we got away from that. Longer shifts, not taking care of the puck and I think we need to do a better job of blocking shots, myself included. Chuli held us in there, it easily could have been 6-2, we need to help her out by blocking shots and picking up sticks.”

After being outshot 11-7 in the second period, Montreal came out much better for the third period. Maureen Murphy hit the post behind Hensley about five minutes into the period. Gabrielle David had a chance of her own before Chuli made a great save on Grace Zumwinkle.

Montreal continued to generate chances. Sarah Lefort was in alone and her shot was saved by Hensley and with under two minutes remaining, their best chance came on a three-on-one with O’Neill, Laura Stacey, and Murphy. O’Neill got the puck to the trailer Murphy whose shot was saved by Hensley’s outstretched pad.

“We stuck to the game plan,” said Cheverie. “We tend to get away from it when we get up by a couple of goals. I like that we stuck to the game plan and followed it to a ‘T’. I believe that the third period and overtime we put ourselves into a good spot to win the game came up short in the shootout.”

Overtime would solve nothing, but the best chance came when Taylor Heise went in all alone on Chuli. Her shot was stopped by Chuli, then went up in the air before landing on the crossbar and falling on the line before being cleared.

After no scoring for the first two rounds of the shootout, Zumwinkle and Erin Ambrose traded goals in round three before Heise put Minnesota ahead in round four. Zumwinkle’s second attempt in round five sealed the game for Minnesota, who extended their lead over Montreal for second place.

Montreal captain Marie-Philip Poulin missed her third consecutive game. She will be attending Team Canada camp this week, but she has not yet participated in a full practice since the injury.

Update: Montreal’s next game has been confirmed to be April 18 at 7:00pm at Verdun Auditorium, as the game was rescheduled from April 19. The opponent has been changed from New York to Minnesota. The game on April 24 will remain at the same time and location but now be against New York.


TOR 19 10 3 0 6 36 50 41 51 5
MIN 19 8 4 3 4 35 47 35 50 6
MTL 19 7 3 4 5 31 44 45 46 10
OTT 19 7 0 6 6 27 50 50 42 14 16
BOS 18 4 4 2 8 22 36 45 40 19 14
NY 18 2 4 3 9 17 36 47 35 9

The top four teams make the playoffs. The first two teams get home-ice advantage in a best-of-five series (2H-2A-H). The team that finishes first gets to choose whether they play the third or fourth team. Boston and New York play their final game before the break on Monday night, meaning every team will have five games remaining after the World Championships.

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