RECAP: Montréal Claims First Place in PWHL Standings, Sets New League Record

On Saturday, PWHL Montréal earned their first win at Verdun Auditorium thanks to Claire Dalton's first career hat trick.

RECAP: Montréal Claims First Place in PWHL Standings, Sets New League Record
Claire Dalton (Photo via PWHL)

PWHL Montréal put together perhaps their most complete game of the season when they hosted PWHL Ottawa at Verdun Auditorium on Saturday in the third 'guerre frontalière' matchup. Montréal's Claire Dalton recorded her first professional hat trick and wrote her name down in franchise history once again.

Coming into the game, both teams needed a solid win. PWHL Ottawa was at the bottom of the league with only three wins on the season. Montréal was coming off a painful shootout loss to New York and had yet to beat Ottawa in regulation. In the end, they put away six goals in front of the home crowd, limiting PWHL Ottawa to three against, and took sole possession of first place in the league standings (though Minnesota is three points behind with a game in hand).

Montréal came out of the gate with energy, while Ottawa took a few minutes to find their feet. Ottawa went on the penalty kill when Rosalie Demers, playing in her PWHL debut, took a goaltender interference penalty. The Montréal power play, which had gone 1 for 36 in the first half of the season, scored for the third game in a row midway through the first on a quick rebound shot from Tereza Vanišová.

A minute and a half later, fan favorite Akane Shiga of Ottawa earned her first PWHL point and goal. The play was a result of Montréal's players pressuring in Ottawa's zone, which left only Leah Lum available to protect the two-on-one when Ottawa had a chance to race down the ice.

The second period was scoreless until the final two minutes, but far from boring. Play as fast and physical and it felt like there was a turnover every few seconds, with lots of end-to-end rushes. Montréal took a Too Many Players penalty, which led to a chance for Claire Dalton to write her name in the franchise history books once again. Kati Tabin intercepted a stretch pass and Dalton tore into Ottawa's zone, cutting around the defender and tucking the puck around Emerance Maschmeyer's pad in an impressive physical effort.

The 'jailbreak' goal was the first short-handed goal in PWHL Montréal history. Dalton, who was the first player to score for the franchise on January 2 in Ottawa, earned another first.

The third period saw six goals, passing the league record of five goals in a period set by Boston and Toronto on Valentine's Day. Ann-Sophie Bettez started the spree two minutes into the period with her second goal of the year. Her first goal was the overtime winner against Ottawa in Montréal's first game on January 2, so this goal was a fitting follow-up.

Ottawa's Daryl Watts scored her third of the season next, bringing Ottawa back within one. The Dalton came back with her second of the afternoon, a tip on a blast from Erin Ambrose from the point. The goal was briefly reviewed for a high stick, but it stood, giving Montréal a two-goal lead.

Catherine Daoust took a tripping call at the 12-minute mark, and Mariah Keopple was called for a hook on the ensuing faceoff. Ottawa was gifted nearly two full minutes of five-on-three, and Kateřina Mrázová converted on an elevated shot from the red line after Montréal managed to kill most of the time. The goal brought Ottawa back within one again.

With under five minutes remaining in the game, pressure in Ottawa's zone led to a turnover, corralled by Marie-Philip Poulin and sent to Claire Dalton. Dalton got past her defender and sent the puck fivehole to claim her first hat trick at the professional level.

Ottawa pulled Maschmeyer at the four-minute mark, hoping to score the two goals they needed to tie the game. Despite chances for the visitors, it was Montréal's Maureen Murphy who sank the empty net goal, sealing the home win for Montréal.

Rewriting the record books

Totaling nine goals, Montréal's 6-3 win becomes the highest-scoring game in the PWHL thus far. The home team became the first in the league to score six goals in a game and the first to score four goals in a period. Montréal had been the only team in the league without a jailbreak goal, but they took care of that in the same game that they became the first team to score their second hat trick of the season. Claire Dalton, who said after the game that she had not had a hat trick on college and could not remember the last time she scored one, recorded the PWHL's first hat trick that did not include an empty net goal.

Looking forward

Montréal saw goals at even strength, on the powerplay, and on the penalty kill. The new top line of Laura Stacey, Poulin, and Dalton proved extremely effective, but the remix of the other lines may have led to the two goals of the rush from Ottawa. Montréal also took five penalties, including a bench minor and a penalty immediately after a penalty. While the former situation led to a short-handed goal, that's still something that head coach Carla McLeod is going to want to clean up during the team's upcoming week off.

PWHL Montréal's next game will be played on Saturday, March 2 as they host PWHL Boston at Verdun Auditorium.