LEWISTON — Retribution comes in many forms but the sting of a goal can linger.
That’s what the Lewiston Maineiacs hoped for Wednesday night when it took advantage of an early power-play goal that followed a dangerous cross-check. It proved to be a vital catalyst for a strong start for the Maineiacs which held a 1-0 and 2-1 lead in Game 4 of the best-of-seven playoff series with the Voltigeurs. Drummondville eventually took advantage of an extended power play of its own in the third that led to a come-from-behind 5-2 series-clinching win.
“It was nice to get the first goal,” said Lewiston coach J.F. Houle. “It really sparked our players. We fed off of that, and I thought we played a good game.”
The hit to the head laid out a Lewiston player and sent a Drummondville player to the showers, and so the Maineiacs made their opponent pay the scoreboard way. Lewiston got a Billy Lacasse goal to give the Maineiacs a much-needed upper hand early.
“They’re really good offensively,” said Lacasse. “So the biggest thing was to take the lead early and try to play good defensively and keep some momentum.”
The early goal was the first lead Lewiston has had against Drummondville in nine games, dating back to a 1-0 lead on Nov. 13. Lewiston went on to lose to the Voltigeurs 6-3 that night. That lead lasted just 3:58, but Wednesday, the early advantage sparked the Maineiacs and even prompted some life out of another dismal home playoff crowd.
“We’re young and maybe that’s what we need to play our best,” said Lacasse. “Every opportunity we get to have some momentum is really good for us.”
Just 4:40 into the game, Drummondville’s starting defenseman Marc-Anthoine Desnoyers delivered a cross-check to the head of Cam Critchlow. The Maineiacs forward immediately slumped to the ice and was attended to by team personnel. While Desnoyers was escorted to the penalty box, Voltigeurs Christopher Didomenico stood nearby and jawed at Critchlow and trainer Tom Bourdon. Desnoyers was subsequently given a five-minute major and a game misconduct.
Lewiston threatened early on the power play but couldn’t produce a quality bid right away. Jess Tanguy was burned by a defender and had a backhand bid that was saved by goalie Jake Allen. After Drummondville sent the puck down the ice, the Maineiacs made one count.Goalie Adrien Lemay pushed the puck up ice. Lacasse got the puck inside the blue line and skated by a defender with a nifty move. He had an open shot and flicked it by Allen at 6:19 of the first.
“I had all my speed,” said Lacasse. “It wasn’t easy to pass them. I just went to the empty space and went past them. When I had the puck and saw that I was alone, I just tried to shoot it top net, and it went in.”
The Maineiacs kept the pressure on and produced six shots in the first 10 minutes, most on the power play. Critchlow had a nice try that was gloved just as the Desnoyers penalty expired.
“Every game I think the gap was getting smaller and smaller against Drummondville,” said Houle. “We were starting to get some confidence. When you’re a young team like that, you get a little inconsistent sometimes. Our defensive zone wasn’t as sharp as it should be, but they battled. That’s all I wanted from them — to make sure they worked every night, and that’s what they did.”
Lewiston continued to play with some confidence and had an 11-5 advantage in shots at one point in the period. The Maineiacs nearly made it 2-0 late in the period on another power play. With Gabriel Dumont in the box for high-sticking, Michael Chaput had a chance at the right post but couldn’t settle the puck for a crack at an open net. That power play was shortlived when Tanguy was whistled off for roughing. Drummondville took advantage when its chance came around on the man advantage and tied the game with a Sean Couturier tip in front with 2:43 left in the first.
Of course, what gave Lewiston life in the first period helped take it away in the third. A five-minute major for hitting from behind by Sam Carrier led to a Drummondville tying power-play goal. The Maineiacs never recovered. The Voltigeurs dominated a gassed Lewiston team in the final minutes with three more late goals.
“Again, we played all the way good until the last six minutes of the game,” said Houle.