RECAP: Stars Shining Bright in Montréal

Saturday was a day of firsts as two players made their debuts and two players earned their first PWHL points in Montréal's win over Boston.

RECAP: Stars Shining Bright in Montréal
Mélodie Daoust celebrated her first PWHL goal, via PWHL.

PWHL Montréal earned their second straight win after going a week without a game, defeating Boston at Verdun Auditorium on by a score of 3-1 on March 2nd. The regulation victory allowed the team to maintain a three-point lead at the top of the PWHL standings, as Toronto briefly tied them with a regulation win at Ottawa.

Captain Marie-Philip Poulin led the team today with a point on each of the three goals. She scored the first herself, with no assists credited, snapping in a rebound off the pad of Boston goaltender Aerin Frankel.

Poulin provided assists on the two following goals and finished the night a plus 2 with three shots on goal and 19 faceoff wins. In any other game, she would have undoubtedly earned the first star of the evening. However, that spot was taken by another star gracing the ice with her presence for the first time this season.

Mélodie Daoust, MVP of the 2018 Olympics and the 2021 World Championship, was signed to a 10-day contract on Saturday morning after participating in team practice this week. She is not eligible to sign a contract for a full season due to not participating in the PWHL draft, but she has been on Montréal's reserve list, and for good reason. Playing on the top line next to familiar faces from Canada's national team, it took Daoust less than 25 minutes to register her first goal in the PWHL.

Daoust's goal came right off an offensive zone faceoff. Poulin won the draw and rushed to the net, passing off to Daoust across the slot for an easy backdoor redirect. It looked like a set play, or maybe just like two players who know each other well enough that a play like that becomes second nature. Daoust looked dangerous all game. She finished with only one point, but at no point did she look like she was missing a step from her last professional game in March of 2023 with Team Scotiabank.

Another player who hasn't seen any drop-off is the night's winning goaltender and the third star of the game, Montréal's Elaine Chuli. With her fifth start in the PWHL, Chuli has passed 240 minutes of playing time, qualifying her for full consideration in the league's goalie ranks. She now leads the league with a .962 save percentage and a 1.19 goals against average, and is tied for third with five wins. She remains the only goaltender to play a full game who has not earned a loss. Chuli has only allowed more than one goal in her first game, a 5-2 win in New York.

At some point, the question must be asked whether Chuli's play has earned her more starts. In the 13 days since Chuli's last start, Montréal's starter Ann-Renee Desbiens allowed five goals in two games and lost a shootout to New York netminder Abbey Levy. She hasn't looked bad, but Chuli's hand is obviously hot and has been all season.

Saturday's game was a night of firsts: Mélodie Daoust had her debut, and so did forward Alex Poznikoff, the 2019 USports PLayer fo the Year and a Secret Cup Champion with Team Harvey's of the PWHPA last year. Poznikoff has been on Montréal's reserve list this season and the team announced Saturday morning that she had been signed for the remainder of the season as forward Kennedy Marchment was placed on LTIR. Poznikoff was credited with two blocks in 4:26 minutes of ice time.

Also celebrating a first was rookie defender Mariah Keopple, who earned her first PWHL point with the primary assist on Erin Ambrose's insurance goal in the third period.

Montréal's win over Boston was convincing in terms of puck possession and creating and taking advantage of turnovers. Shots were fairly equal by the end, with Montréal edging out the visitors with a 35-31 advantage, but the home team registered more shots from high-danger areas, while Boston's were kept to the outside. Boston's only goal came off an uncharacteristic turnover from Keopple that led to a two-on-one for Hilary Knight and Alina Müller. Perhaps the only area of concern in Montréal's game was the failure of the power play to convert on any of their four chances in the game. But even then, the units looked good. Sometimes you don't get the bounces, but in this case, the team's even-strength play was enough to secure the win.

Montréal will be in action again on Wednesday March 6th as they take on PWHL New York at Total Mortgage Arena in Bridgeport, Connecticut.