Thunder 4, Canadiennes 3: Fabs Can’t Complete The Sweep in Game Two
Erika Howe Shuts Down Montreal in Do-or-Die Situation
Montreal’s Les Canadiennes took on the Markham Thunder in game two of the CWHL playoffs on Saturday night a Brossard’s Bell Sports Complex. The Fabs were coming into this one up 1-0 in the series, following a dominant 3-0 win on Friday.
Saturday night’s game was also the scene of a domination, but this time, it was the Thunder who put on a clinic. Markham was able to keep the Fabs at bay for most of the game. Breakouts were very difficult for the home team and they had just as much difficulty setting up anything offensively.
The visitors opened scoring quickly in the first. A Victoria Bach shot from the point deflected on multiple occasions before ending up in the back of Emerance Maschmeyer’s net. Jenna McParland was credited with the goal on the sequence.
The early tally was an obvious setback for the home side. The little momentum they managed to set up in the first minute had completely crumbled in the aftermath of that first power play goal.
It didn’t take long for Makham to extend the lead as McParland added her second power play goal of the game just over four minutes later.
Special teams were key in this one. The Fabs benefited from four opportunities on the player advantage without ever being able to build any type of momentum. At the opposite end, the visitors were able to beat Maschmeyer on their first four power plays.
“We definitely want to take less penalties than we did tonight,” said co-head coach Caroline Ouellette. “It’s always a physical game against Markham. We’ll have to look back on certain aspects of our penalty kill to make sure that we are more efficient tomorrow.”
Montreal were still able to create some menacing chances despite being outplayed in front of their own fans. The Fabs ended the game with an impressive total of 43 shots. They also came close to adding three more shots, but these shots ended up hitting the post.
McParland completed her hat-trick on a precise one-timer just under Maschmeyer’s glove. Not a bad return to the series after collecting a 10-minute misconduct in game one.
“Our mindset was to not worry about what happened on Friday,” said McParland. “We wanted to come into this game with a clean slate and try to get pucks on net. I think that’s what we did.”
Montreal finally showed signs of life on the scoresheet, responding to the McParland third goal only 12 seconds later. Hilary Knight was credited with the goal after a melee in Erika Howe’s crease.
The Markham netminder was clearly upset by the referee’s decision to allow the goal as she rushed towards the striped jersey in anger. The decision was upheld and Montreal were finally pulling in closer after getting fully outplayed.
Ella Matteucci scored the eventual game winner with four minutes left in the second period. Montreal inability to stop Markham’s power play early in the game was what ultimately led to their demise in game two.
The Thunder were awarded another power play almost midway through the third. Montreal’s defender Lauriane Rougeau headed to the penalty box for body checking.
As they did on their previous four opportunities, Markham didn’t waste time finding the back of the net. Laura Stacey thought she collected her first goal of the playoffs, but the referees reversed the call because of a contact with Maschmeyer.
The Fabs were finally getting a break in a game were they couldn’t manage to get the bounces going for them.
Montreal’s push back came in just a bit too late in the game. Hilary Knight led the way for her squad with an absolute laser beam beating Howe over the blocker. The American’s sniper came off a pass from teammate Mélodie Desrochers who was making a return to the lineup.
With 1:49 left in the game, Montreal was holding on to hopes of a comeback as Karell Emard brought Les Canadiennes within one goal of tying things up, only 41 seconds after Knight’s second of the night.
Despite their inability to fully mount the comeback, the Canadiennes showed some strong will and persistence late in the game. The momentum will have to carry into the ultimate game in order to give Montreal a real chance to reach the Clarkson Cup final.
“It’s huge,” said Ouellette. “It helps set the tone for next game. We want to start the way we finished today. I think it gives us a mental edge and that the way you want to feel after a game like today.”
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