LEWISTON – Whether Marc-Andre Cliche’s penalty shot was legal or not didn’t matter, least of all to the Lewiston Maineiacs’ captain.

“I guess it has to be legal now, right?” Cliche questioned rhetorically with a laugh. “It counts.”

Cliche buried his penalty shot 13 seconds into the third period with the Maineiacs short-handed after he appeared to stop dead in front of Halifax goalie Roger Kennedy and loft the puck over the lunging netminder.

“You’re not allowed to do that on a penalty shot,” Halifax coach Cam Russell said. “Obviously, we’ll have to look at the video and see who was right.”

That goal gave Lewiston a two-goal lead – the Maineiacs’ third such lead of the night – and helped push the team to an 8-4 victory over the Mooseheads in front of 3,282 at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee on Friday.

Chad Denny led the offense with a hat trick, while Cliche added three helpers to his penalty-shot goal. Pierre-Luc Faubert had three assists, and Stefano Giliati scored a pair of goals, his first two in the playoffs.

“It’s a huge win for us,” Denny said. “We have home ice, and we need to take advantage of that and get a win to start the series.”

For much of the season, the Maineiacs’ defense has led the way. Friday, the offense took its turn.

“We can always depend on our defense, because we’re a very defensive team,” Giliati said. “But our offense, when our offense produces, it makes it that much easier for us to be successful.”

Bryce Swan had a pair of goals in the first period for Halifax, which jumped out to a 1-0 lead 3:34 in on Swan’s first goal.

Two quick power-play goals – one from Denny and the other from rookie David Perron – gave Lewiston a 2-1 advantage, but Swan scored the equalizer at 10:34, and the teams skated into the first break deadlocked at two.

“The first period, we were bad, there’s no question we were bad,” Maineiacs’ coach Clem Jodoin said. “Some kids played a good game, some kids have been struggling, so we have to refocus and (today), hopefully everyone will have a decent game.”

Lewiston went ahead 4-2 on goals from Denny and Chris Tutalo, which chased starting goalie Mark Yetman, only to see Jakub Voracek stuff home a giveaway from the right side of the net past Lewiston keeper Jonathan Bernier.

Giliati scored his first at 17:50 of the second to again put Lewiston ahead by two, but again Halifax fought back with another weak goal, this off the stick of Ryan Seymour.

“Sometimes you score goals like that,” Russell said. “Bernier is a composed guy, and we expect a better effort from him tomorrow.”

“The key was leaving it at four goals,” Jodoin said. “It’s a building process. When you haven’t seen any action for a long time, the game pace is different.”

In the third, after Cliche’s penalty shot, Lewiston took control. Giliati made it 7-4 at 3:38 with a finish on a long rebound to Kennedy’s right. Denny wrapped up the hat trick and sent hats raining down from the stands with a rush on the left side around defenseman Stephen Lund.

“We played for 40 minutes,” Swan said. “We were down one at the end of two and got that early power play in the third, but they just outworked us in the end. That can’t be happening.”

Even with the win, the Maineiacs were hard on themselves.

“We shouldn’t be satisfied,” Jodoin said. “It’s a win, but we shouldn’t be satisfied.”

Game 2 is tonight at the Colisee at 7 p.m.

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