Messy: Montreal 4, New York 3
- 5 min read

Messy: Montreal 4, New York 3

Messy: Montreal 4, New York 3 by Nicole Haase

The refs tried to be the main characters, the broadcast failed to return from the second intermission until there were only 12 minutes left, and New York forgot about defense.

What happened?

This game featured 11 penalties – six in the second period alone – and an officiating crew that decided the fine folks of Connecticut were actually on hand to see them on Wednesday night.

The game was fast-paced at times, which makes me lament what could have been if a bunch of soft whistles hadn't interrupted the flow of play. All three of New York's goals came on the power play as it seemed to be the only time that they could really settle down and focus. They experienced some unfortunate bounces and puck luck, but generally just didn't feel like they could get their timing synced at even strength.

The YouTube feed featured an extra long second intermission, as the game failed to return to the broadcast when the break was over. With no intermission clock and the same revolving videos and chyron, it wasn't immediately obvious what happened beyond a feeling that the intermission was long. A check of social media showed the puck had been dropped and many fans found out about Marie-Philip Poulin's goal to put her team up 4-2 early in the third via Twitter as the feed didn't return until midway through the period.

Montréal jumped out to an early 3-0 lead using quick transitions that seemed to catch New York flat. The visitors gave Montréal too much space and the Canadian team exploited it.

First, Jillian Dempsey scored her first PWHL goal by making New York look like they were standing still as she countered. The lack of pressure allowed her to gather speed and while her initial shot did not get through traffic, she was easily able to gather her own rebound and take it to the net, where she tucked it around Corinne Schroeder to make it 1-0 five minutes into the game.

Sarah Bujold doubled the lead when she grabbed the puck out of a scrum in the corner behind her own net and started the breakout. She dished the puck off, but never stopped skating, passing the New York defense and finding wide open ice to receive the puck back from Catherine Dubois and go one-on-one with Schroeder, who she beat with a backhand to make it 2-0.

Four minutes later, Marie-Philip Poulin took off with Gabrielle David and just one defender between them and the net. David one-timed Poulin's saucer pass and the puck fluttered, freezing Schroeder and beating her back over her glove to extend the lead to 3-0.

New York got on the board before the first break when Jessie Eldridge with the puck even with the goal line. Desbiens sealed the post, but Eldridge's pass through the crease deflected off Erin Ambrose's skate into the net.

With six penalties in the second, there wasn't much flow to the game and New York used the odd-player chances to pull the game closer when Abby Roque tipped in Ella Shelton's shot from the blue line.

I can't tell you about the build up to Poulin's third-period goal, but I can tell you it was a quick, gorgeous rush with Laura Stacey where the two showed off their chemistry.

Things got interesting midway through the third when Jessie Eldridge scored a goal that was pretty much a carbon copy of Roque's from earlier in the game as she tipped in a shot from distance by Shelton.

But they once again struggled to find their chemistry in the waning minutes and could not find an equalizer as Montréal took the win, which moves them into first place in the standings, three points ahead of Minnesota. The loss is New York's fourth in a row and puts them solely in last place, one point behind Ottawa and two points behind Boston.

Three up, three down

↑ New York special teams – Not only did they score three times on the player advantage, but they were a perfect six for six on the penalty kill. One day we'll study what the heck was going on with special teams in this inaugural season, but while we wait for the season's dataset to become complete, we just get to enjoy the chaos.

↓ Letting them play – After actual months of being told that a more physical game is what the players wanted, this game was officiated with a massively tight leash and not just for physicality. When you have to watch a replay from multiple angles to see a trip and the announcers are immediately decrying a slash as non-existent, things have gone sideways. This ended up being an ugly frustrating game to watch and I can imagine it was worse to play. I don't know what the PWHL version of an UmpShow is called, but this was it.

↑ Sticking with it – Corinne Schroeder was let down by her defense and then beat by a knucklepuck to put her team in an early hole. Not only did I like that Howie Draper stuck with her and didn't make a change, but I like how well Schroeder herself recovered and stayed in the game. She made a number of key saves, particularly on the penalty kill and made it so her team was still in the hunt all the way until the end.

↓ New York's skid – It feels like they're the epitome of "when they are good, they're very, very good and when they are bad, they're awful." The mental lapse early on to give Montréal so much space was bad, but letting it happen more than once was inexcusable. This team continues to have some of the most impressive individual performances, but cannot seem to tie or string any of them together.

↑ Movin' on up – Where New York is out of sync, Montréal seems to have found their rhythm not just line by line, but as a whole. It's massive that they're getting contributions from all of their lines and there's a flow and cohesion to their game that is beautiful and fun to watch. They look like a first place team and have taken sole possession of it, three points clear of Minnesota. It feels like they're only going to continue to improve with more time together and that should make them very, very intimidating to the rest of the league.

↓ Overlaps – I hope that as the schedule is being built for next season, more attempts are made to stagger the games that have to be played on the same day. I assume at least some of this came about with the short time frame, but even ensuring that double-header nights start in two different time zones would allow for fans to watch some of both.

VP's Player of the Game

Laura Stacey – In a mess of a game, she was a constant. She was involved in plays on both ends of the ice, starting the breakout, moving the puck and doing her best to generate offense. While much of Montréal's attack was fast break, when they were in the zone, it was most likely Stacey unleashing her shot, getting the puck to net and trying to make something happen.

(Photo: Nala Burton/PWHL)