GAME RECAP: FLANAGAN LEADS TORONTO OVER MONTRÉAL FOR TENTH STRAIGHT VICTORY IN PITTSBURGH

PITTSBURGH, PA (March 17, 2024) – Kali Flanagan scored a goal and an assist to lead Toronto’s offense, and extend the team’s winning streak to 10, with a 2-1 victory over Montréal on Sunday afternoon at Pittsburgh’s PPG Paints Arena.

The game, hosted in partnership with the Penguins as part of PWHL Takeover Weekend, presented by e.l.f. Cosmetics, had an attendance of 8,850 and is the largest crowd to ever watch a professional women’s hockey game in Pittsburgh.

Flanagan delivered her best offensive game of the season on St. Patrick’s Day, highlighted by her third goal of the season, which held as the game winner at 6:11 of the second period.

Blayre Turnbull forced a turnover in the Montréal zone, and with the puck on her stick, the captain found linemate Maggie Connors with a pass inside the blue line as she joined the play. Connors fired a shot that sailed high and wide but was tracked by Flanagan who had skated deep into the zone for support. The defender grabbed the puck off the end boards near the corner and quickly snapped a sharp angle shot that appeared to surprise goaltender Ann-Renée Desbiens. Before Desbiens could cover the short side post, the puck deflected off her body and into the net to give Toronto a 2-1 lead.

Flanagan also drew a secondary assist on Hannah Miller’s sixth goal of the season that opened the scoring at 7:11 of the first period.

Sarah Nurse won an offensive zone face-off that gave Toronto possession down low. When Montréal tried to clear the puck, Flanagan pinched along the side boards and sent it back deep to Natalie Spooner in the corner. Facing the boards, Spooner shielded the puck with her body and delivered a backhand pass directly onto Miller’s stick. The forward was wide open at the right dot and wristed a laser past Desbiens.

Montréal tied the game in the first period with a highlight reel goal by Kristin O’Neill who scored her first of the season at 13:42.

O’Neill, playing on the team’s top line in place of the injured Marie-Philip Poulin, grabbed a loose puck that had been cleared by linemate Claire Dalton to the attacking blue line. The centre streaked down the left side, and with a nifty pull-and-drag move, ripped a shot bar-down over the glove of Kristen Campbell.

That shot was the only one that would beat Campbell who made 17 saves to record her 12th win of the season and 11th straight. Desbiens made 24 saves in the loss.

Toronto has now defeated Montréal in all four of their head-to-head meetings, including three times in regulation during their 10-game win streak. Montréal has now lost a season-high three straight games, with two of them coming against Toronto, beginning with a 3-0 loss on March 8.

The three points gives Toronto 33 points on the season and boosts them back into a tie with Minnesota atop the standings – three points ahead of third place Montréal.

Up next, Toronto hosts Boston at Mattamy Athletic Centre on Wednesday, March 20 at 7:00 p.m. ET. Montréal returns to the ice next Sunday afternoon, March 24, when the visit Minnesota at Xcel Energy Center. Puck drop is 4:00 p.m. ET.

Postgame Quotes:

Toronto defender Kali Flanagan describes her goal and the atmosphere: “It was really cool. I think for me, I was just trying to keep the puck in. I was pinching down trying to see where the puck was going to go, and it just popped out and I was just thinking ‘get it on net’. Having an atmosphere like that, a crowd like that, our team has had so much cool support and I think it was just really fun and cool support to have that reaction [to the goal].”

Toronto head coach Troy Ryan on 10 straight wins: “The whole season started off, we had that first game, I think there was a lot of nerves, but the group is so good together off the ice. The league has done a great job setting us up for success. I think it’s honestly just sticking with it, the basics. The way we play is physical, we have a good combination of offense and defense and I think that gives us a chance to win every night. Soupy (Kristen Campbell) in goal has done a great job dealing with some of the adversity that she had at the start of the year and finding a way to play with confidence and the composure that she’s had.”

Montréal forward Laura Stacey describes her Pittsburgh experience: “The crowd was awesome. We had a community event yesterday and the people were great. This organization welcomed us with open arms.”

Montréal head coach Kori Cheverie on the game: “The fans were great out here today. I think they saw a good show. The Penguins organization has always been good for our game. I liked our game today. I am really happy for Kristin O’Neill and that she was able to score. She has been relentless all season. She is gritty and plays a good defensive game.”

Notes:

  • Attendance: 8,850 – PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PA.
  • Three Stars: 1) Kali Flanagan 2) Kristin O’Neill 3) Kristen Campbell
  • Shots ended 26-18 in favour of Toronto who led in the first (9-6), second (8-5), and third (9-7) periods.
  • Montréal’s 18 shots on goal are the fewest the team has generated in a game all season.
  • Three players tied for the individual lead in shots – Toronto’s Jocelyne Larocque and Sarah Nurse – Montréal’s Laura Stacey all had five shots on goal.
  • Toronto was 0/1 on the powerplay – Montréal was 0/2.
  • Flanagan doubled her season point total to four and now has three goals and one assist.
  • Natalie Spooner’s assist extends her point streak to four games (2G, 4A) – She is now tied with Marie-Philip Poulin for second in league scoring with 17 points, one behind Alex Carpenter (NY).
  • Hannah Miller has scored in back-to-back games and has three goals in her last four games.
  • Blayre Turnbull extends her point streak to six games (1G, 5A) which is tied for the longest in the PWHL this season.
  • Maggie Connors has three points (2G, 1A) in her last four games.
  • O’Neill scored her first goal on her 21st shot of the season – She now has two points in two games since centering Montréal’s top line.
  • Claire Dalton’s assist came in her return from a four-game absence due to injury – She recorded a hat trick in her last game on Feb. 24 against Ottawa.
  • Erin Ambrose recorded an assist for the second straight game and is now tied for third in scoring among defenders with 10 points.
  • Campbell’s 17 saves are the fewest she’s made in a win this season.
  • This was Toronto’s tenth win when scoring the first goal – They have scored first 11 times.
  • Neither of the league’s top two teams in third period offense scored a goal in the final frame.
  • Toronto has won five of its six one-goal games – This was Montréal’s fourth loss in 11 one-goal games this season.
  • Toronto (9-3-0-5) has 33 points on the season, tied with Minnesota, but hold the tiebreaker by virtue of their superior points percentage having played one less game.
  • Montréal (7-3-3-5) is in third place with 30 points, eight ahead of fourth place Boston.
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