Chris Tutalo didn’t see much ice in the third period – one, maybe two shifts.

“He was playing poorly, so we sat him down,” Lewiston Maineiacs’ Head Coach Clem Jodoin said. “We had to send a message.”

Tutalo received his coach’s signal loud and clear, and he proved it emphatically in overtime.

Tutalo finished off a slick feed from Stefano Giliati at 1:21 of the extra session to lift the Maineiacs to a series-clinching 4-3 victory over the Shawinigan Cataractes in front of 2,011 at the Jacques Plante Arena.

“Both the defensemen got burned,” Maineiacs’ assistant coach Jeff Guay said. “It was almost like a 2-on-0. Giliati slid it over and Tutalo put it in.”

Tutalo has been a clutch performer for the Maineiacs late in the season, scoring game-winners in two of the team’s final five regular-season games and assisting on the game-winners in two others.

The victory wraps up the best-of-seven series with Shawinigan in four games, equaling the team’s best playoff outing since moving to Lewiston. The Maineiacs also swept Shawinigan in 2005 as the underdog. In that series, Sheldon Wenzel scored the game-winner on overtime at the Colisee.

“We’re just happy to be over with,” Jodoin said. “We’re happy to be coming home.”

The win capped a two-goal comeback for Lewiston, which trailed 3-1 early in the third after Cedric McNicoll banked the puck off of Maineiacs’ forward Jakub Bundil and into the net behind Jonathan Bernier.

David Perron notched his fifth of the series at 5:47 of the third to pull Lewiston back within one at 3-2, and Marc-Andre Cliche pounded home a feed from Perron from behind the net with 2:31 to play to force overtime.

“Cliche was on the back door and David Perron had a guy on him,” Guay said. “It was on his backhand on the side of the net, and he saw him, swung around and passed it. It was like slow motion. I was wondering if Cliche was even going to shoot.”

Shawinigan rookie goalie Marc-Andre Perron played one of the best games of his young career for the Cataractes, and nearly pulled off the win with a strong third-period performance.

Despite the sweep, Shawinigan played admirably as a team, too.

“They worked,” Guay said. “They were in first place at the beginning of the year, and they have some good young guys over there. They battled, got some good goaltending.”

Chad Denny scored his third of the series in the first, and Shawinigan forward Danick Bouchard countered to knot the score at one.

“That was probably our worst first period of the year, including preseason,” Guay said.

Shawinigan took a 2-1 lead in the second on another Bouchard goal, and McNicoll’s bank shot off of Bundil at 4:09 of the third set up the Maineiacs’ comeback.

The second round of the playoffs is tentatively set to begin at the Colisee on Friday, April 6 at 7 p.m. against a yet-to-be-determined opponent.

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