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Montreal holds off Minnesota 2-1 in battle of top PWHL teams

Montreal’s Elaine Chuli is the only goalie to see action without a loss this season
Minnesota’ Kendall Coyne Schofield (26) moves in on Montreal goaltender Elaine Chuli as Montreal’s Ann-Sophie Bettez (240) defends during third period PWHL hockey action in Laval, Que., Sunday, February 18, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Elaine Chuli made 21 saves for her fourth win in as many starts as Montreal defeated Minnesota 2-1 in the Professional Women’s Hockey League on Sunday afternoon.

Chuli, who’s playing back up to Canada No. 1 Ann-Renee Desbiens, is the only goalie to see action without a loss this season. She entered the game with a league-leading .962 save percentage.

Sarah Lefort scored the game-winning goal and Claire Dalton also found the back of the net for Montreal (4-3-2-2), which was shut out 3-0 against Toronto on Friday in front of a women’s hockey record crowd of 19,285 at Scotiabank Arena.

Captain Kendall Coyne Schofield scored the lone goal for league-leading Minnesota (5-2-2-3), which won 2-1 at Ottawa on Saturday. Maddie Rooney stopped 18 shots in her first loss.

A rowdy sold-out crowd of 10,172 spectators took in the battle between the PWHL’s top two teams at Place Bell.

Dalton opened the scoring on the power play 3:41 into the first period, deflecting a point shot from Kati Tabin past Rooney for her second of the season. It was only Montreal’s third power-play goal this year.

Montreal controlled the play through much of the period, holding Minnesota without a shot on goal until 12:22 into the game.

Coyne Schofield got Minnesota on the board at 17:42 after picking up a rebound and finishing a sweet backhand over Chuli’s left shoulder for her fourth.

Lefort scored her first on the season 14:06 into the second to put Montreal up 2-1. She started the play by setting up Madison Bizal for a one-timer with a saucer pass, and finished it by burying the rebound.

After Erin Ambrose slid into her crease, Chuli made a couple big stops on Minnesota’s Kelly Pannek without her stick in the last minute to keep the game tied heading into the third.

With Minnesota on the power play with 12 minutes left, Montreal captain Marie-Philip Poulin nearly extended the lead but hit the crossbar on a deke to the backhand.

Minnesota earned a second power play just as the other expired but Montreal managed to kill it off.

Lee Stecklein nearly tied the game with a slap shot off the post while Minnesota had the goalie pulled for an extra attacker.

With five seconds left on the clock, all the players on the ice appeared to stop playing, believing the game was over as Montreal hung on for the victory.


Montreal signed forward Catherine Dubois to a standard player agreement before the game. The 28-year-old from Charlesbourg, Que., produced one goal in seven games while playing on 10-day contracts for Montreal.

In a corresponding move, the team placed defender Dominika Laskova on long-term injured reserve. The 27-year-old from Czechia last played Jan. 27 against Boston.

Forward Kennedy Marchment was also out of the lineup Sunday.


Minnesota star forward Taylor Heise missed her third game in a row after picking up an upper-body injury in Game 7 on the Rivalry Series between Canada and the U.S. on Feb. 11. Selected first overall in the PWHL’s inaugural draft, Heise has three goals and three assists in nine games this season.

Minnesota dressed 11 forwards with Heise and Liz Schepers out.


Montreal: Hits the road for a game in New York on Wednesday.

Minnesota: Opens a two-game homestand next Sunday against Boston.

Daniel Rainbird, The Canadian Press