LEWISTON — The season will end with one box left unchecked on the Lewiston Maineiacs’ list of teams to beat.

Montreal capitalized on a delay-of-game penalty, jumped on a chance to score a shorthanded goal and snuck one through Andrey Makarov he’d probably like to have back — in in 4:07 of game time — late in the second period, and Jean-Francois Berube withstood another comeback attempt late in the third as the Junior defeated the Maineiacs 4-3 at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee on Thursday night.

“We had the 3-1 lead. We stopped playing for four minutes and … bing, bang, boom,” Lewiston coach J.F. Houle said. “It cost us. You can’t let down against good teams, and at the end, I didn’t think we generated enough offense.”

Lewiston grabbed the lead with three consecutive goals to begin the second after trailing 1-0 at the first intermission.

Etienne Brodeur scored his league-leading 44th goal of the season 2:06 into the middle frame to knot things up at one on the power play. It was also the Maineiacs’ first power-play goal in 25 chances.

Stefan Fournier added another — again on the power play — at 9:18 to give Lewiston the lead, and Cole Hawes finished in close on Berube 1:10 later to put the host team on top by a pair.

After a penalty to Olivier Dame-Malka for delay of game, though, the Maineiacs’ momentum disappeared.

“It was a lucky break for us,” Montreal coach Pascal Vincent said. “I know him; he’s a great kid, but that was lucky for us. I think the turning point was the goal we scored on the power play after that.”

Louis Leblanc scored on that man advantage to pull the Junior back to within a goal at 3-2. Nicolas Chouinard picked off a pass while shorthanded and finished off the breakaway to even things up, and Jeremy Gouchie completed the turnaround with a shot through Makarov’s wickets on a 2-on-1 with 36 seconds to play in the period.

“Lewiston is a tough team to play against,” Vincent said. “They have a lot of speed and their transition is pretty deadly. We had to play a sharp game.”

Sharp through the second for Vincent’s club, and smart in the third. Montreal, the oldest team in the league in terms of average player age, showed its composure in the final frame, giving the Junior their fourth win in as many games against Lewiston.

“Some of those games could have gone either way, but I think our experience, our composure when it’s tight is very good,” Vincent said. “Again tonight, that’s what we said after the second period. We’re solid when it’s a tight game, so let’s keep it that way.”

“They’re the oldest team in the league, and once they get the lead, they know how to play with it,” Houle said. “They can shut everything down, and they have a goalie who can make big saves. We had a chance to win it there at the end with Brodeur on the back door, but he missed the shot. It happens. But you make your own luck. We shouldn’t have been in that position to start with.”

Montreal again got off to a fast start, but the Maineiacs were able to stop the bleeding more quickly this time.

Only 2:35 into the first, after a penalty to Lewiston defenseman Sam Finn, Gouchie set the Junior power play up in the Maineiacs’ end. He curled up the left boards, fed Charles-Olivier Roussel in the left corner who then found Charles Landry back door for the easy roof job, giving the visitors a 1-0 cushion.

Unlike in the teams’ previous meeting, though, Montreal couldn’t get another past Makarov in the opening frame, though not for a lack of trying. The Junior outshot Lewiston 16-10 in the first, and Makarov had to make a few stellar stops, once with the glove and twice with the right pad.

“I’m not going to lie, it’s not good right now, we’re in a funk,” Houle said. “But, every team goes through it. We happen to be going through it right now. Looking at the schedule, we knew playing Montreal, Quebec, Quebec, Montreal would be tough. We could have been 2-2, but we lost four.”

Lewiston plays eight of its final 11 regular-season games on the road, beginning with a game in Rimouski on Sunday. The team then plays one in Chicoutimi and another in Drummondville before hosting the Voltigeurs on Sunday, Feb. 27.


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