Follow me @KarineHains for all updates about the Montreal Canadiens and women's hockey
Follow me on Patreon for more Hockey Hainsight
New York might have been in last place before last night’s game, but it doesn’t mean they’re not a good team. They started their season without two core players, both Micah Zandee-Hart (their captain) and Jill Saulnier, who were injured. The blueliner has now been back for six games and the forward has joined Team USA standouts Alex Carpenter and Abby Roque on the top line for the last five games.
Montreal had some new lines for this game with Kristin O’Neil centering Maureen Murphy and Tereza Vanisova while Claire Dalton and Laura Stacey completed Marie-Philip Poulin’s line. Perhaps the coach felt Murphy and Vanisova could do with a break from the coverage they usually get riding shotgun with Poulin. As for the top line, whenever Poulin and Stacey are on the same line, they give a good show as they always seem to know exactly where the other is going to be on the ice.
Last night, it was New York’s top line that was once again lethal with scoring race leader Alex Carpenter scoring twice in the first frame, including a jailbreak goal that cut a Montreal power play short. It was hardly the start Kori Cheverie had hoped for her side as she could only watch her players unravel on the ice. Ann-Renée Desbiens would no doubt like to have another shot at stopping the first goal which she should have had in all fairness. As for the second goal, it came after Erin Ambrose fell at the opponent’s blue line to cough up the puck and fell again once at her net to have a first-row seat to see Carpenter’s second goal of the game.
Whatever Cheverie told her side during the intermission worked wonders as Montreal came out strong in the second and dominated the frame in shots 7-2. Laura Stacey was the only one to find the back of the net, beating Abigail Levy on one of Montreal’s numerous power plays.
Montreal thought they had tied the game on another Stacey goal, but it was waived off. Apparently, there was goaltender interference, but the Montreal power forward wasn’t even sure she had felt contact with Levy, but she was philosophical in the post-game media opportunity: “Honestly, it happens sometimes, hockey is not an easy sport, sometimes you’re on the right side, other times you’re not.”
Thankfully for Montreal though, they went on to score another goal, which was just as controversial as it crossed the line as the net was coming off its moorings after Tereza Vanisova cut to the net while being pushed by a New York defender. Maureen Murphy was able to tap in the rebound from Vanisova’s shot, scoring her second goal of the season. It stood as the game-tying goal giving the point they needed to catch Minnesota in the standings.
As the tie remained, five minutes of overtime were played, but it was no use, no one could break the deadlock. A shootout was necessary to crown the winner and in the end, both Alex Carpenter (on her second attempt of the shootout) and Abby Roque scored on Ann-Renée Desbiens, giving New York the much-needed extra point. No-one managed to beat Levy for Montreal, both Poulin and Vanisova lost control of the puck in Montreal’s first two attempts while Poulin was stopped on her second, just like Stacey who saw Levy stretch her pad to deny her. Final score, New York:3 Montreal: 2.
After the game, Kori Cheverie was concerned by the fact her team just wasn’t ready to compete at the start of the match: “We have to play the whole game. We were in a situation where we needed to come out strong. We haven’t done it in the last two games, even if we keep getting points. If we play a complete 60 minutes, we’ll be in a good position. It’s hard to play when trailing by two goals, you use your players differently, trying to create a spark. It’s hard for them. The more you trail, the more you abuse your resources to try and tie up the game”.
Cheverie will have until Saturday to speak to her players to make sure they are ready for puck drop in a 2.30 PM match-up with Ottawa. For the time being, Montreal is second in the standings even though they have as many points as Minnesota, because they’ve won more games outright. Saturday’s visitors will no doubt be ready for the start as they are dead last in the standings and will be desperate for the three points.