Brianne Jenner, Kateřina Mrázová power PWHL Ottawa to 1st win over Montreal

Ottawa goalie Emerance Maschmeyer thinks there’s a rivalry brewing between the Professional Women’s Hockey League’s three Canadian teams as the regular season reaches its final third.

“Montreal is becoming a rival, I would say, and I think Toronto’s up there too for us right now,” Maschmeyer said. “We’ll see who comes out on top.”

On Sunday, Ottawa finally got the best of a budding nemesis with a 4-2 road win.

“We are seeing the pieces of our game come together,” Ottawa head coach Carla MacLeod said in a statement released by the PWHL. “There were more blocked shots. There were more gritty back checks. We moved the puck a little harder. We’re still managing blue lines in the third period but we were better at it today than we were last game.”

Maschmeyer stopped 34 shots, and Ottawa defeated Montreal for the first time in four meetings in a hotly contested affair in front of a rowdy 10,172 fans at Place Bell.

“It was chippy out there tonight. There’s a lot of passion, both teams really want to win,” Maschmeyer said. “We have a lot of fun with games like that.”

WATCH l Tejralová scores winner against Montreal:

PWHL Ottawa claims 1st win over Montreal with Tejralová’s winner

Aneta Tejralová scores the game-winning goal while on a power-play in the third period as Ottawa defeats Montreal 4-2.

Captain Brianne Jenner had a goal and an assist, and Kateřina Mrázová pitched in with three helpers to lead the offence. Daryl Watts, Aneta Tejralová and Gabbie Hughes — into an empty net — also scored for Ottawa (5-0-5-6), which snapped a two-game losing skid.

Ottawa is fifth in the six-team PWHL, tied in points with fourth-place Boston with one more game played.

“I think an issue we’ve had is just consistency for 60 minutes,” Maschmeyer said. “Tonight was, I would say, the first game that we were as close to 60 minutes as possible.”

Poulin held out of lineup

Laura Stacey and Melodie Daoust scored for Montreal (7-3-4-3) while Ann-Renée Desbiens made 29 saves. Captain Marie-Philip Poulin was out for preventive measures after sustaining an apparent injury in Friday’s 3-0 loss in Toronto and is considered day-to-day, head coach Kori Cheverie said.

“All of us knew that she wasn’t in the lineup tonight and the entire team tried to stand up and play as a team,” Stacey said. “We knew what we needed to do, obviously we fell short.”

Cheverie couldn’t confirm if her star player would be available when Montreal meets Toronto again next Sunday at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh.

“We’re being as preventive as we can because there’s still a long season,” Cheverie said. “You don’t want to rush something like that. You don’t want to put a player in a situation that she shouldn’t be in.”

The 32-year-old Poulin is second in the league with 17 points (eight goals, nine assists) in 16 games. Forward Claire Dalton was also out.

Montreal, which is tied atop the PWHL standings with 30 points, lost its second game in a row for the first time this season.

Stacey says that’s a sign of the team’s strength, rather than a cause for concern.

“There’s two ways to look at that. It’s, `Shoot, we just lost two in a row’ or ‘Wow, this is the first time all season we’ve lost two in a row,”‘ Stacey said. “Two in a row is not the end of the world.”

Special teams play proves to be the difference

According to Cheverie, the difference on this occasion was special teams.

Down 2-0, Montreal broke Maschmeyer’s shutout bid, finally scoring on its fifth power play of the game when Stacey cranked a one-timer into the back of the net at 11:10 of the third period.

Tejralová, however, responded on an ensuing Ottawa power play with a wrist shot from the point at 13:24 to restore the two-goal cushion.

Ottawa’s league-best power play went 2-for-5. Montreal, which entered the game with the league’s second-worst power play, was 1-for-5.

“I think our PK hasn’t been good,” Cheverie said of Montreal’s penalty kill, which allowed five goals in three games this week.

“We’re not getting in the shooting lanes quick enough, or we over commit so we miss out on the blocking lane. And then, tipping from the high slot is obviously a great skill, but being able to disrupt that a little bit would have been ideal.”

Daoust brought the game within a goal again with 2:58 left but Hughes iced it by burying a goal into the empty cage with 65 seconds remaining.

“We let in a few goals in the third, but we responded well on both occasions,” McLeod said. “That is all stuff that we have been working towards as a group throughout the season. It was nice to see it come into play today.”

Jenner opened the scoring on the power play with 37 seconds left in the first period.

With Montreal’s Sarah Lefort already in the box for interference, Desbiens received a delay-of-game penalty at 10:06 of the second for freezing the puck behind the net after she was tripped by Ottawa forward Lexie Adzija.

Ottawa came out of it with a 5-on-3 advantage — drawing heavy jeers from the home crowd.

“There wasn’t much communication, which to me is tough,” Cheverie said about the officiating. “I think the relationship tonight was what was hard. It just wasn’t there.

“I really don’t think it’s an us versus them mentality, we really should be working together to make it right and stop worrying about who is right.”

Montreal managed to kill off the 5-on-3. Watts, however, doubled Ottawa’s lead under a minute later.

Roster moves

Ottawa signed forward Samantha Isbell to a standard contract before the game. Isbell, 26, was a reserve player for Boston and appeared in three games while on a 10-day contract. In a corresponding move, Ottawa placed forward Fanni Garat-Gasparics on long-term injured reserve.

Ottawa also announced Jordan Colliton would join head coach Carla McLeod’s staff. Colliton worked as an assistant for the Mount Royal University Cougars women’s team between 2015 and 2022.

Meanwhile, Montreal signed former Premier Hockey Federation MVP Mikyla Grant-Mentis to a reserve player contract. The 25-year-old Grant-Mentis had three assists in six games for Ottawa this season before she was released on Feb. 18.

Montreal plays Toronto at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh next Sunday, with live coverage on, the CBC Sports app and CBC Gem.

Ottawa visits Boston on Saturday at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit.

The remaining schedule of PWHL games airing on CBC Sports this season is available here.

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