Timing is everything.
Set aside the fact that the Lewiston Maineiacs allowed 51 shots on goal, the worst part of the game wasn’t necessarily that the Maineiacs allowed seven goals, but when Drummondville scored them.
The Voltigeurs scored a goal in the first minute of the second period, one within 20 seconds of a Lewiston score, and another in the final two minutes of the middle frame to take command of the game, eventually skating off with a 7-2 victory over the visiting Maineiacs in front of 2,514 at the Marcel Dionne Centre.
“Their timing was pretty impeccable,” Maineiacs’ coach J.F. Houle said. “We had an open look in the first, then we go to the timeout and they scored, and then in the second, we missed an open net, and they came back down and scored again. We generated more chances this game, but we need to finish now.”
Adrien Lemay had to be on his game early. The Volts launched 51 shots at the 20-year-old Lewiston goalie, including 21 in the first period and another 20 in the second.
On the other end, Lewiston finally generated some offense against Jake Allen, one of the top 19-year-old goalies in the world. The Maineiacs netted their two goals on just 17 shots, one of which came on the power play.
“I think the guys are disappointed we lost, but we did generate more scoring chances, and the two goals we scored are two more than last time, so we can take that away,” Houle said.
Chris DiDomenico was the offensive star for the Voltigeurs, earning a goal and three assists in the victory in only his 13th overall game of the season. He sat out the first 56 games of the season recovering from a serious leg injury.
Marc-Olivier Vachon had a pair of goals for Drummondville as well. Lewiston’s goals came from Sam Carrier and Michal Hlinka.
Lewiston escaped the first period down just 1-0 after the Volts pelted Lemay with 21 shots, though many of those were from the outside. In fact, Lewiston had the better of the chances in the early going, and Allen had to be alert from the opening faceoff.
“We came out strong, I liked the intensity we showed early,” Houle said.
Lewiston also had a pair of early power play chances go by the wayside.
Vachon, the Drummondville captain, got the home team on the board first at 10:46 of the opening frame on a funky tip-in on a Marc-Antoine Desnoyers shot from the point off a faceoff win.
The Volts added another in the first minute of the middle frame when Sean Couturier, the league scoring champion, lofted a rebound of his own initial shot on a wrap-around attempt over Lemay’s shoulder.
Lewiston rebounded to make it 2-1 when Carrier followed a series of shots on the power play and buried the puck into a half-open net.
Drummondville added another, though, 17 seconds later as DiDomenico added his first of the playoffs.
“That killed the momentum,” Houle said. “We kept plugging away, but we couldn’t get the upper hand.”
Michael Chaput missed an open net late in the third period that would have pulled the Maineiacs within a goal for a second time after Allen misplayed the puck and it sat at the edge of the crease in front of a yawning cage.
Instead, Lewiston went into the second intermission trailing by three after a missed defensive assignment low in the Maineiacs’ zone led to a Philippe Lefebvre tally at the 18:52 mark of the second.
Hlinka gave the Maineiacs some hope with a quick goal in the third, but consecutive goals from Desnoyers, Gabriel Dumont and Vachon quashed those hopes.
Lewiston and Drummondville will play Game 2 at the Marcel Dionne Centre on Saturday night at 7 p.m.