'They think they have it': PWHL Montreal looks to halt Boston's celebrations

Kori Cheverie heard the jubilation coming from the visitors' locker room loud and clear Saturday night. The PWHL Montreal head coach is eager for her team to prove it was premature.

Montreal on the ropes, down 2-0 in series, following triple-OT road loss in Game 2

Hockey coach speaks to her players on the bench
Montreal head coach Kori Cheverie instructs her players during third-period PWHL playoff hockey action against Boston in Laval, Que., on Saturday. (Christinne Muschi/The Canadian Press)

Kori Cheverie heard the jubilation coming from the visitors' locker room loud and clear Saturday night.

The PWHL Montreal head coach is eager for her team to prove it was premature.

Boston put Montreal on the ropes with a triple-overtime road victory to take a 2-0 series lead in their best-of-five semifinal, and celebrated loud enough for their opponents to catch the whole thing.

"They think they have it," Cheverie said Monday at the Verdun Auditorium. "Certainly after their celebration the other night, they think they have it."

After losing twice at home to open the playoffs, Montreal looks to shift the momentum in Game 3 on Tuesday at the Tsongas Center in Lowell, Mass.

"Good for them because we wish we had been in that situation, for sure," Cheverie added about Boston's celebration. "If that's us in Game 3, I don't think that we're going to be celebrating."

WATCH | Boston defeats Montreal in 3OT thriller:

PWHL Boston edges Montreal in Game 2 with Wenczkowski's winner in 3OT

2 months ago
Duration 1:28
Taylor Wenczkowski's winning-goal in triple overtime lifts Boston to a 2-1 win over Montreal and is one victory away from playing in the PWHL's Walter Cup final.

Montreal may have its back against the wall, but the series has been far from lopsided. Montreal dropped both games 2-1 in overtime, dominating the shots 54 to 26 in Game 1 and edging Boston 57 to 52 in Game 2.

Cheverie doesn't think they need a drastic change to their approach in Game 3 — team analytics show Montreal should've won both games so far.

"Everyone could probably agree that we could be up 2-0 in this series," Cheverie said. "We've played nine-ish periods, and I would say that we dominated seven of them.

"We have a really great opportunity to take the momentum back."

The message in Montreal's locker room, the players say, is to put the first two games behind them and focus on "winning one game three times."

Trailing 2-0, they believe the pressure falls on Boston with the commanding lead.

"We don't have anything to lose at this point," forward Kristin O'Neill said. "In a different kind of way, it's a great position to be in. We can kind of wear our heart on our sleeves and just focus on the moment."

One thing Montreal will have to solve, however, is Boston's netminder.

Aerin Frankel has stopped a remarkable 109 of 111 shots through two games despite having to square up against a Montreal offence filled with weapons.

"She's in the zone, she's a brick wall right now," said Montreal captain Marie-Philip Poulin, who's without a point in the series.

Instead of showering Frankel with praise, Cheverie put the onus on her players to start bearing down on their chances.

"I would have gladly taken our numbers [right now] at any point earlier on in the season," Cheverie said. "We've missed open nets, we've missed pucks that just trickled by — I don't think that that's Frankel who's making the difference on empty nets that we're missing and pucks that are just trickling through the blue paint."

Game 4, if necessary, goes Thursday in Lowell followed by a winner-take-all Game 5 at Place Bell in Laval, Que., should Montreal even the series.

Minute muncher

Montreal defender Erin Ambrose played a league-high 61 minutes 33 seconds Saturday, and the loss in triple overtime wasn't the only thing that added insult to injury.

"The worst part is that I wore high heels and had to walk out of the arena in high heels," Ambrose said. "I probably should have just gone with my flip-flops."

Ambrose's staggering ice time would have placed fifth in recorded NHL history. She spent her Sunday recovering — jumping in and out of hot and cold tubs, hydrating and walking "a lot."

"If I would have just laid on the couch, I don't think I'd be standing vertically," said Ambrose, who was a full participant at practice Monday.

"The minutes were high but it was something that I was ready for. You work all summer, all year to make sure you're ready if you do get put in that position."

Montreal's Kati Tabin (56:49), O'Neill (52:44), Laura Stacey (52:30) and Poulin (50:33) also exceeded the 50-minute mark in a game that started at 7:09 p.m. and finished at 11:56 p.m.

On the other end of the lineup, five Montreal skaters played under six minutes, following a pattern from Game 1 where the team's fourth line didn't take the ice once. Meanwhile, Boston fourth-liner Taylor Wenczkowski scored the game-winning goal in Game 2.

"I'd be more concerned if we were losing three and four nothing," Cheverie said about her lineup decisions and the wear and tear on her top players. "The fact that both games went to overtime, and it could have gone either way. I'm not that concerned. I don't think I saw Stacey or [Poulin] lose any steam."

Boost for Boston

Boston is adding a key player for Game 3. Head coach Courtney Kessel told reporters Canadian Olympian Jamie Lee Rattray would re-enter the lineup after missing Games 1 and 2 with an injury. Rattray had three goals and eight assists in 21 games this season. The 31-year-old forward exited Boston's final game of the regular season against Montreal after a high hit from Sarah Lefort, who was suspended one game for the incident.

Meanwhile, Montreal forward Sarah Bujold skated in a non-contact jersey during Monday's practice. Bujold, who hasn't featured in the series, remains day-to-day. Stacey and netminder Ann-Renee Desbiens took the practice off for load management.

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