May 30th, 2024

O’Neill scores twice, Montreal completes late comeback over Minnesota in PWHL action

By Daniel Rainbird, The Canadian Press on April 18, 2024.

Montreal goaltender Elaine Chuli (20) makes a save against Minnesota's Denisa Krizova (41) closely guarded by Montreal's Erin Ambrose (23) during first period PWHL hockey action in Montreal on Thursday, April 18, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christinne Muschi

MONTREAL – Kristin O’Neill scored twice, and Montreal pulled off an epic comeback for a 4-3 win over Minnesota on Thursday night in the Professional Women’s Hockey League.

Down 3-2, Montreal pulled the goalie for an extra attacker with 2:49 left in the game – and it paid off. Laura Stacey fired a one-timer past Maddie Rooney to tie the game with 2:23 left.

After Minnesota’s Maggie Flaherty took a minor penalty for holding, O’Neill scored her second of the game with 46 seconds remaining to complete the comeback and bring the 3,084 fans at Verdun Auditorium to their feet.

Both teams returned to action after a nearly month-long break for the world championship in Utica, N.Y. And Montreal got significant contributions from Canadians who won gold.

Captain Marie-Philip Poulin and Stacey each had a goal and two assists, and Erin Ambrose had four helpers for Montreal (8-3-4-5), which snapped a four-game losing skid. Elaine Chuli made 25 saves.

Poulin, who helped Canada win gold with two goals in the world championship final, returned to PWHL action after missing three games with an undisclosed injury.

Grace Zumwinkle, Kelly Pannek and Brooke Bryant scored for Minnesota (8-4-3-5), which had its five-game win streak snapped. Sophie Jaques had three assists and Maddie Rooney stopped 33 shots.

Montreal moved within one point of Minnesota for second place in the league standings. Both teams have four games remaining.

Montreal next hosts Toronto on Saturday afternoon at the Bell Centre. A women’s hockey attendance record is expected to be broken at the 21,000-capacity venue.

Both teams capitalized on the power play, with Montreal going 3-for-4 on the power play and Minnesota was 1-for-2.

O’Neill opened the scoring on the power play 7:22 into the first period, converting on her own rebound at the side of the net for her second of the season.

Minnesota pressed for an equalizer but Chuli, who was solid through most of the game, fended off any chances, including a dangerous slap shot from Natalie Buchbinder.

At 17:52, Poulin finished off a slick feed from Ambrose on a tick-tack-toe play started by Stacey, putting Montreal up 2-0 with another power-play goal.

Minnesota shifted the momentum in the second.

The visiting team capitalized on its second power-play opportunity as Zumwinkle scored her 10th of the season off a cross-ice feed from Michela Cava at 4:59 after Montreal’s Mikyla Grant-Mentis took back-to-back penalties early in the period.

Pannek tied it up at 9:23 with a nifty backhand deflection past Chuli after a pass from the point by Jaques. Minnesota took its first lead of the game 1:24 later as Bryant tapped in a pinpoint feed from Taylor Heise for her first of the season.

UP NEXT

Montreal: Hosts Toronto on Saturday.

Minnesota: Visits Ottawa on Saturday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 18, 2024.

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