Montreal cruises past New York 5-2 to clinch PWHL post-season berth

MONTREAL — Kristin O'Neill had a goal and an assist in helping lead Montreal to a 5-2 win over New York and clinch a playoff berth in the Professional Women's Hockey League on Wednesday.

The victory moved Montreal (9-3-5-5) into a tie for first place with Toronto, with each team having 38 points and Toronto having a game in hand. On the other hand, the loss eliminated New York from playoff contention in the six-team league.

Catherine Daoust, Catherine Dubois, Laura Stacey and Mélodie Daoust, with an empty-netter, also scored for Montreal, which netted three goals in the second period to hold a 4-0 lead until the dying seconds of the frame.

“The second period has been our nemesis all year but we came out with a lot of energy after a slow start,” Montreal coach Kori Cheverie said. “And I was happy that we did a good job protecting the lead when they turned up the heat in the third.”

Marie-Philip Poulin picked up one assist to move past Toronto's Natalie Spooner for top spot in the PWHL scoring race with 22 points.

Ann-Renée Desbiens stopped 31 shots, including all 14 she faced in the first period. She received strong support from her teammates who blocked 21 shots.

“Having a first period like that gives a goaltender belief,” Desbiens said. “We all knew we didn’t have the best first period but we were still up 1-0.”

“She’s the Ann-Renée we drafted and we need her to play like that in the big games,” said Cheverie, who was disappointed that Montreal was outshot 14-6 in the first period.

Ella Shelton and Alexandra Labelle, with a short-handed effort, scored for New York (3-4-3-11). Corinne Schroeder made 20 saves.

New York failed to capitalize on its power play, coming up empty on three opportunities in the first period and finishing the game 0-for-5. Montreal was 2-for-4 with the extra player.

O’Neill, who scored one of the power-play goals -- Stacey had the other -- said she was determined to step up her offensive game after helping Canada win the gold medal at the world championship earlier this month.

“At the world championships, I was playing with two college girls and now I have (Poulin) on one side and Stacey on the right with her one-timer,” said O’Neill. “It’s a good fit.”


Montreal travels to Ottawa on Saturday.

New York hosts Toronto on Sunday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 24, 2024.

Pat Hickey, The Canadian Press