Toronto busts open scoreless game in third to top Montreal before 19,285 at Scotiabank Arena

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Troy Ryan has been saying since his PWHL Toronto skaters took the ice for the first time that the offence is going to have to come from multiple sources and group efforts rather than the highlight individual efforts that normally get all the attention in a hockey game.

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A crowd of 19,285 on hand at Scotiabank Arena — the largest crowd to take in a game in the history of women’s hockey — saw that first hand as a real defensive battle played out in the first ever Battle of Bay Street, Toronto winning it 3-0 on three third-period goals.

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Scoreless through two periods, the line of Brittany Howard, Hannah Miller and Jesse Compher broke though first with Miller winning a battle along the boards and feeding the puck to Howard behind the Montreal net. Howard’s backhand pass to a wide-open Compher driving the net broke the lid on the scoreless game with the U.S. national team product chipping it high over the shoulder of Montreal goalkeeper Ann-Renee Desbiens for her first goal of the season.

On a team that had scored just 23 goals in its first nine games, 10 of them by Natalie Spooner alone, Ryan knew the offence would eventually spead out. That line not only opened the scoring but got the insurance marker as well about six minutes later as Miller sniped one past Desbiens to put Toronto fully in the driver’s seat.

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With the Montreal net empty, Victoria Bach, a forward who missed all of the first month as she wrapped up her teacher’s college certificate, got her first goal of the year.

But the first star of the game, and a well-earned one at that, was Toronto netminder Kristen Campbell who turned aside 30 shots for her second shutout of the year.

Since getting some playing time under her belt after three years of mostly backup duty with the Canadian national team, Campbell has really come into her own.

Her confidence is sky high after a somewhat shaky start to the PWHL campaign.

Campbell was at her finest on the Toronto penalty-kill, something that happened with some frequency in the game.

Five times Toronto was short-handed, once down two skaters allowing Montreal to set up in the Toronto zone for minutes at a time only to be turned away consistently by Campbell.

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Toronto’s Blayre Turnbull swats at a rebound after being stopped by Montreal goaltender Ann-Renee Desbiens in the first period. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young)
Toronto’s Blayre Turnbull swats at a rebound after being stopped by Montreal goaltender Ann-Renee Desbiens in the first period. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young)

Through two periods, Montreal was generating more chances, though that was helped tremendously by Toronto’s parade to the penalty box.

Campbell was solid in the Toronto net keeping Montreal off the scoreboard despite facing 20 shots through two periods.

In the other net, Desbiens was equally calm, cool and collected turning back all of Toronto’s forays through the first 30 minutes until first Compher and then Miller broke through.

With the win, third-place Toronto now has 17 points, tied with Montreal (though the home side has played one more game) and one shy of league-leading Minnesota.

Toronto came into the game having allowed just two goals in 30 penalty-kill situations for a 93.3% success rate, tops in the PWHL.

The 30 short-handed situations were second in the league behind Montreal’s 32 coming into the game, but Toronto had already taken four more minors to Montreal’s one to take over the most penalized lead in the league.

They added five more successful kills to that league-leading mark on Friday night.

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