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PWHL: Montreal shut out in front of a record crowd in Minnesota

Photo by: Kelly Hagenson/PWHL

Minnesota natives Grace Zumwinkle had three goals and Maddie Rooney made 24 saves as Minnesota defeated Montreal 3-0 in PWHL action on Saturday afternoon. The game was played in front of 13,316 fans at the Xcel Energy Center.

The 13,316 set a new world record for a professional women’s hockey game. It is the second time that the record was broken by the PWHL this week, and the second time that Montreal was the opponent.

“It’s not easy going into a rink with that many people against you,” said Montreal head coach Kori Cheverie. “It’s really loud in there, I’m already losing my voice from today. Starting three games on the road is never easy, especially in front of a crowd like that so we’ll learn what we can from this game and move on to New York and see if we can steal more points from a home team.”

Montreal had a better start to this game than they did in their win in Ottawa on Tuesday. Gabrielle David started a play with an interception that led to a Sarah Lefort chance, but Rooney made the save. Kennedy Marchment had a chance of her own, but her pass just missed the mark after making a move to get around the defender.

“We’re not going to panic at this moment in time,” said Cheverie, about the team’s offensive struggles. “We have to put pucks and bodies into the higher percentage areas of the ice but no we’re not concerned at all.”

Despite Montreal controlling the run of play, it was Minnesota who scored first. Zumwinkle scored her first goal of the day when she put a backhand shot on Ann-RenĂ©e Desbiens. It handcuffed the Montreal goaltender, and snuck through. Desbiens said that there was a player in the slot that she needed to protect against, so she wasn’t square when Zumwinkle took the shot, and the bounce went the wrong way.

“I would like both goals back,” said Desbiens, who made 19 saves. “I’m a perfectionist, I want to give my team a chance to win and I didn’t do that today so that’s disappointing on my part. I need to be better and give my team energy when they need it.”

Cheverie didn’t agree with her goaltender.

“She gave us a chance to win. She made some stops, and we didn’t score. It’s hard to win when you don’t score,” she said.

Desbiens bounced back with a huge save on Kelly Pennek shortly after the Zumwinkle goal, but Montreal ended the period with a 1-0 deficit.

Montreal had an early power play in the second period, and their best chances came at the end of it with Kristin O’Neill, Kati Tabin, and Claire Dalton teaming up for an opportunity.

Desbiens stepped up again shortly after another Montreal power play when Michaela Cava had two chances in close.

Montreal had zone time and offensive possession, but never really forced Rooney to make tough saves. Maureen Murphy had the best chances, with several chances in close but was unable to beat the Minnesota goaltender. Murphy finished the night tied for the team lead with three shots on goal.

Early in the third period, Zumwinkle scored her second goal. She fired a wrist shot from the top of the offensive zone that looked to take a deflection off a Montreal defender and beat Desbiens to make it 2-0.

Montreal’s best chance in the period came when Marie-Philip Poulin had a partial breakaway with about eight minutes remaining, but was unable to score. The Montreal penalty kill had a strong period, killing all four penalties they took in the third, including 30 seconds of a five-on-three.

With just under four minutes remaining, Cheverie pulled Desbiens for the extra attacker, but after they hit the post of the empty net, Zumwinkle got her third of the game into the empty net with 2:47 left in the game.

After playing two games in opponent’s home openers where they set attendance records, Montreal will finish their season-opening road streak with a game Wednesday at UBS Arena when they face New York for the first time. Montreal’s home opener will be January 13 at a sold out Verdun Auditorium.

Montreal was without Ann-Sophie Bettez, who scored the overtime winner in the team’s first game. She was held out as a precautionary measure. Cheverie did not elaborate after the game. Madison Bizal, a Minnesota native, made her PWHL debut in the game.

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