Hats and Disappointment: Ottawa 3, Montreal 6
- 4 min read

Hats and Disappointment: Ottawa 3, Montreal 6

Hats and Disappointment: Ottawa 3, Montreal 6 by Zoë Hayden

Montreal finally won a game at Verdun Auditorium, thanks in no small part to a hat trick by rookie Claire Dalton. Ottawa kept the game close, but got overwhelmed late and lost their second straight.

What happened?

The first period started with both teams playing evenly, trading chances in transition and completing a lot of crisp passing, but neither side was really able to get much sustained pressure in the offensive zone.

The home team would get on the board first, thanks to – you guessed it – the power play, with Tereza Vanišová picking up a rebound from Laura Stacey to beat Emerance Maschmeyer. Ottawa would answer quickly though, with Lexie Adzija flipping the puck out of her defensive zone at the blueline. Natalie Snodgrass picked it up, and went on a quick 2-on-1 with Akane Shiga. Snodgrass had her initial shot saved, but Shiga was there for the rebound once Ann-Renée Desbiens was out of position, and it was 1-1.

As the period went on, the tone got a little more physical, and the physicality picked right back up in the second period, with much the same pace – lots of speed, lots of quick breakouts, but not a lot of sustained zone pressure. Montreal headed to the power play again, but were less successful, with Ottawa blocking shots and putting pressure on them to keep them at their own end of the ice. The finishing touch was a diving block by Gabbie Hughes that almost sprung Aneta Tejralová out of the box.

About 12 minutes into the second period, each team still only had 11 shots on goal (having scored one apiece). Despite lots of back and forth, it was starting to feel like it might be a bit of a war of attrition. But things started to open up – Poulin got a chance all alone on Maschmeyer but hit the post. And Montreal was getting some actual zone time throughout the second. Late in the second, after having just had an unsuccessful power play, Ottawa was granted another thanks to a too many players penalty on Montreal – even though Boulier could have easily been called for a hook on the same sequence. Ottawa's power play was disoriented by an aggressive Montreal forecheck, and they continued to create turnovers. Claire Dalton entered the zone from center and simply undressed Tejralová to get in alone on Maschmeyer and score shorthanded on a backhander, negating the bench minor and giving her team a 2-1 lead to head to the third period.

Montreal picked right back up where they left off after the intermission, with Ann-Sophie Bettez getting in behind the defense to take a pass from Sarah Bujold. Bettez was all alone and she didn't miss, top shelf, to make it 3-1. The goal only seemed to fire Ottawa up, though, and they started to create chances of their own. Jincy Roese kept the puck at the blueline which turned into a cycling shift for Daryl Watts, Brianne Jenner, and Kateřina Mrázová. Jenner found Mrázová in the high slot, who shot towards Desbiens, but Watts picked up the rebound to make it 3-2.

Neither team let their foot off the gas, but it was a deceptively harmless shot by Erin Ambrose from the point that gave Montreal their 2-goal lead back. It was tipped by Dalton for her second of the game, as the puck just knuckled past Maschmeyer.

With 8 minutes to go in the game, Ottawa got a power play, and then were gifted an extended 5-0n-3 immediately after the opening faceoff as Mariah Keopple hooked Hughes. Desbiens made several stops and Marie-Philip Poulin had a huge block and cleared the puck, but Ottawa came back and got set up – and capitalized. Ottawa maintained good motion once they got into the zone and Mrázová fired a puck almost horizontally from the goal line to beat Desbiens and put her team within 1.

But Ottawa couldn't mount a comeback – Montreal played tough and physical to keep the visitors hemmed in their own zone. A sneaky keep by Poulin at the center point along the blueline sprung Claire Dalton, who released a quick shot to tally her third goal of the afternoon. Hats rained down and suddenly it felt too little too late for Carla MacLeod's team.

Ottawa pulled Maschmeyer early, with about four minutes to play, and Maureen Murphy made it 6-3 with the empty netter. With 1:36 to go, Ottawa got to go back to the power play, but there wasn't much to be done. Montreal skated away with the win and sole possession of the top spot in the league standings.

Three up, three down

↑ Goals – The nine goals scored in this contest between the two teams is the most to date in any PWHL contest.

↓ ↑ Special teams – Montreal's special teams got going and put them in a position to win, while Ottawa's did the opposite, as they got into trouble with a shorthanded goal. Montreal's power play has climbed up to 9.8%, good for third in the PWHL. Ottawa had a 5-on-3 goal late to get them close, so their specialty unit did bear some fruit, but they probably would have liked to see more production with 5 power play opportunities throughout the game.

↑ Akane Shiga – Her first PWHL point was a timely equalizer that demonstrated her no-hesitation shot.

↓ Comebacks – Ottawa got within one, but immediately let Montreal get into their heads with tough physical play. Any time Ottawa gained the offensive zone, there were Montreal players hounding their every step and leaning on them. Montreal weren't playing desperate either – they calmly and successfully slowed the pace down. Controlled play by Montreal allowed them to do little things that gave them the edge, like Marie-Philip Poulin's pick at the blueline to set up Claire Dalton's hat-trick goal. Ottawa didn't have an answer for it.

↓ Ottawa, still – Ottawa only have two wins in the last calendar month and sit dead last in the standings with their season half over. We've seen what a few regulation wins can do for a team's postseason hopes, but Ottawa haven't been able to win consecutive games yet this season, in regulation or otherwise.

VP's Player of the Game

Natalie Snodgrass – Snodgrass was everywhere in this game, using all areas of the ice to get in on the play and create scoring opportunities, and she assisted on Shiga's tally.

(Photo: PWHL)