Antoine Lafleur nearly upstaged Jonathan Bernier in the latter’s return to action Friday night.

Bernier’s teammates put an end to that with three goals in a 1:44 span in the third period to lift the Lewiston Maineiacs to their ninth consecutive victory, a 4-1 win over the PEI Rocket in front of 2,764 at the Charlottetown Civic Centre.

“Both goalies played very, very well,” Maineiacs’ coach Clem Jodoin said. “Jonathan looked calm in the net. He was solid.”

Bernier, the Lewiston Maineiacs’ No. 1 goaltender, took his place between the pipes defending the Maineiacs’ cage for the first time since Jan. 25, and stopped 28 of 29 in a solid outing.

Lafleur carried a shutout late into the third period, but thanks to a pair of penalties, the Maineiacs were able to claw back to tie it at 11:39 on a David Perron tally.

“The key with (Lafleur) is, once you get one goal, the second and third will come,” Jodoin said. “We had chances before. It was a matter of how to get that first one.”

The floodgates opened enough for the Maineiacs to score two more in quick succession – a Pierre-Luc Faubert strike at 12:59 and an Eric Castonguay goal at 13:23.

Chad Denny scored into an empty net with 50 seconds to play to ice the game.

The two teams, each noted for playing a defensive game, allowed more chances against than has been normal this season. The Maineiacs managed more than 35 shots against PEI for the second straight game, while the Rocket fired the puck at Bernier 29 times and found the back of the net just once. Bernier showed no sign of favoring his previously-injured ankle.

“The key for us going into the playoffs is having a goalie with experience,” Jodoin said. “That’s to take nothing away from Peter Delmas, who did a great, great job for us. But for (Bernier), I feel good for the kid, for the team.”

The Maineiacs will have today off and play their final regular-season game Sunday afternoon against the Rocket in Charlottetown.

Notes: St. John’s demolished Saint John on Friday, 5-1, and sewed up the No. 7 seed in the East, meaning Lewiston will now officially face Shawinigan in the first round of the playoffs … Lewiston will hand out its annual player awards at a banquet Tuesday night at the Ramada Inn of Lewiston.


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