PWHL Minnesota vs. Montreal is clash of top two


vs. Montreal, Xcel Energy Center, 7 p.m. Wednesday


Opening bell: After playing its first five games against five different opponents, Minnesota gets a rematch against Montreal in a clash between the PWHL's top two teams. Minnesota leads the standings with 12 points and has yet to lose in regulation. Montreal has earned points in each of its past four games, putting it in second place with 10 points. Its only regulation loss came to Minnesota, a 3-0 defeat in Minnesota's Jan. 6 home opener at Xcel.

Watch her: Marie-Philip Poulin is a serial crusher of American hearts, scoring the winning goals for Canada in three Olympic gold-medal games against the U.S. Her brilliance has lost none of its luster in the PWHL. The Montreal center has three goals in the past two games, including the winner in a 3-2 victory over New York and a game-tying goal with 18 seconds remaining in a 3-4 loss against Toronto. She leads the league in goals (six) and is second in points (seven).

Forecast: Minnesota has the best goaltending tandem in the league, with Nicole Hensley (3-0, 1.65 goals-against average, .946 save percentage) and Maddie Rooney (1-0-1, 1.45, .943). Rooney got the shutout in the first meeting with Montreal, and if Minnesota coach Ken Klee maintains his pattern, she will start Wednesday. With Poulin coming in on a hot streak, whoever is in net will have to be sharp. Minnesota's offense has been powered by Grace Zumwinkle, who scored all three goals in the victory over Montreal, along with Taylor Heise and Susanna Tapani.