HALIFAX, Nova Scotia – The Lewiston Maineiacs are, indeed, fallible late in a game.

For the first time in the playoffs, a team outscored the Maineiacs beyond the second period, and for the first time in 18 games, the Maineiacs suffered a loss.

Ryan Hillier snaked his way through three Lewiston defenders and fired a wrist shot past Lewiston goalie Jonathan Bernier’s blocker and into the top left corner of the net at 3:15 of overtime Wednesday to lift the Halifax Mooseheads to a 3-2 victory, forcing a Game 5 in the teams’ best-of-seven quarterfinal series.

“I saw the screen out in front, and I looked to shoot blocker,” Hillier said. “I just let it go.”

The loss is the Maineiacs’ first since Game 59 of the regular season, an 8-3 setback to Acadie-Bathurst on Feb. 23. The loss is also Jonathan Bernier’s first since Jan. 9 in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

“I don’t think we were ready,” Maineiacs’ forward Simon Courcelles said. “They came out really strong, they played their best game (of the series), and we played out worst. I think we should have lost by more than that.”

Lewiston led 2-1 in the latter stages of the third period before a delay-of-game penalty – called automatically after Michal Korenko inadvertently fired the puck over the glass in his defensive zone.

On the ensuing power play, Halifax worked the puck around the point until Guillaume Monast found Hillier in the left circle. Hillier then laced a pass through traffic to Peter James Corsi in the low slot. Bernier made the first save, but Corsi gathered his own rebound and stuffed it home to even the score.

“That felt good,” Corsi said. “We worked hard as a team and that’s what happens when you do.”

Halifax never played like it was deflated after a Game 3 loss left the Mooseheads on the brink of elimination, firing 55 shots toward Bernier, the most Lewiston has allowed in a game in three seasons.

“We have nothing to lose,” Corsi said. “We’re the underdogs. We just have to keep working hard.”

On the other end, the Mooseheads stifled most of the Maineiacs’ pressure, but still trailed 2-1 after two periods.

“It was frustrating, but it was still a good feeling in the room because we knew that everybody was giving it their best effort,” Halifax coach Cam Russell said. “We knew eventually we’d get a break.”

The teams traded power-play goals in the first period. Colby Pridham notched his seventh of the playoffs at 6:08 of the opening frame after a Jakub Voracek shot from the point ricocheted to him at the right-side circle for a 1-0 Halifax lead.

Lewiston responded on a 5-on-3 at 13:51. The Maineiacs cycled the puck to the right side boards, where Stefano Giliati gathered a Chris Tutalo pass and fed Chad Denny in the high slot for a one-timer. Like he did three times in Game 1, Denny blasted a slap shot into the top left corner of the cage past Halifax goaltender Mark Yetman, who finished with 30 saves in the win.

The Mooseheads dominated the second period territorially and in shots, throwing everything they had at Bernier. But the Lewiston keeper stayed steady and played well positionally.

“Every opportunity we got, we threw at Bernier,” Russell said. “He was playing a great game.”

Perhaps bolstered by the play of their keeper, the Maineiacs stayed patient and reversed the flow of play just long enough late in the period to take their first lead of the game.

Marc-Andre Daneau found a seam in the slot, and Stefan Chaput fed him with a laser of a pass from the left corner. Daneau touched the puck past Yetman to give Lewiston the lead, 2-1.


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