LEWISTON – Lewiston Maineiacs defenseman Chad Denny knew he was going to be whistled for a penalty as soon as he touched the puck. Instead of just tapping it, he fired a shot toward the Halifax net from center ice. Halifax goalkeeper Jeremy Duchesne casually kicked it aside with his left pad.

The Maineiacs couldn’t even put the shots that didn’t count past him.

Duchesne stopped 39 of 40 shots, and a pair of goals 10 seconds apart late in the third period put what had been a close game out of reach as the Mooseheads upended the Maineiacs in front of 2,412 at the Colisee on Friday in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference best-of-7 playoff series.

“I thought tonight, I saw the puck pretty well,” said Duchesne. “My defense cleared the front of the net. Whenever I can see the puck, it’s a lot easier to do my job.”

“It’s playoff hockey. It’s a different game,” said Maineiacs coach Clem Jodoin. “After the second period, the score could have been three or four for us. Sometimes you need a goal to change the momentum, but we just couldn’t score.”

Four times the Maineiacs hit the post behind Duchesne, and at least three other times the netminder made spectacular flopping saves on shots he barely saw.

“He did good,” said Maineiacs’ forward Pier-Luc Champagne. “I think we can’t give him too much respect that we think we can’t beat him, because we know we can beat him. We just couldn’t find the openings tonight.”

Champagne had the Maineiacs’ best chance in the second period on a perfect pass from Stefan Chaput in the left corner, but Duchesne slid to his left and stuck out his pad in time.

“My goal on that, I took the information part of the pass, I knew the guy was there,” said Duchesne. “It’s a lot easier to move around when you know where the other guys are, you move and you hope the puck touches you.”

The Maineiacs were a dismal 0-for-12 on the power play.

“We’ll talk about it, our unit, and we’ll just adjust,” said Maineiacs forward Mathieu Aubin. “We know we can score. We did this year against them. We just can’t panic, it’s a long series.”

The win was big for the Mooseheads. After Game 2 tonight at the Colisee, the series shifts to Halifax for three straight at the Halifax Forum.

“We’re a young team,” said Halifax coach Al MacAdam. “We want to get that first game going. Everybody’s got butterflies, so now we have some expectations, what to expect (tonight) as far as the level of play.”

Halifax started the scoring at 9:51 of the opening frame when Ben MacAskill fired a slapshot through a screen for a short-handed tally.

The Mooseheads made it 2-0 at 1:21 of the second when Luciano Lomanno snuck in from the point and buried a rebound behind Lewiston goalie Jonathan Bernier.

Lewiston grabbed the momentum early in the third and finally broke the ice at 11:45 when Maxime Mathieu rattled home a rebound to cut the lead in half.

But after Halifax killed off another penalty, the Mooseheads struck for a pair of goals just 10 seconds apart.

Justin Saulnier had a Lomanno shot glance off his skate at 16:12 to make it 3-1.

James Pouliot, a Manchester, N.H, native, made it 4-1 with a backhander that beat Bernier.

“It’s still a best-of-7,” said Jodoin. “We’re down 1-0, it’s not the end of the world.”One column news deck goes here and here and here ggg

One column news deck goes here ggggg

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