Defenseman Matt Doyle and forward Jake LaRusso each scored a pair of goals to help lead the visiting New Jersey Titans to a 7 – 3 win over the Maine Nordiques. The victory snapped the Titans six game losing streak.
Maine took an early lead just 1:48 into the opening period on a goal that Titans’ goalie Christian Stoever wish he could have back. The Nordiques Tyler Gaulin picked up the loose puck at his own far side half wall and fed a pass to Isaiah Fox at the top of his blueline. As Fox skated through center ice, he passed the puck to Patrick Schmiedlin who was waiting just outside the Titans zone. As Schmiedlin entered the offensive zone, he skated towards the bottom of the far side faceoff circle and took a sharp angle wrist shot that somehow found its way past Stoever and into the back of the net to make it a 1 – 0 game.
Doyle scored his first goal of the game with 8:58 left in the period. After Stephen Willey brought the puck into the Nordiques zone, he made a drop pass to Tyler Nasca along the near side boards. Nasca sent a bounce pass off the end boards to Blake Humphrey behind the Nordiques net. Humphrey tried a wrap around that was saved by Maine’s Tyriq Outen but the rebound came right back to Humphrey who made a centering pass out front to Doyle and the defenseman took a wrist shot that hit the post and went into the net to tie the game at one.
The Nordiques regained the lead with 2:26 remaining in the opening period. After Nasca dumped the puck into the Maine zone, it was picked up by the Nordiques’ Andrew Noel at the top of the point and he head manned the puck up to Fox just outside the Titans zone. As Fox gained the line along the near side boards, he took a wrist shot from the faceoff dot that beat Stoever high glove side for his fourteenth goal of the season.
The Titans then broke open the game by scoring six unanswered goals, four of them in the second period.
The Nordiques’ Casper Söderling was called for holding at 5:47 into the middle stanza to give the Titans the man advantage. Twenty-four seconds later LaRusso tied the game. LaRusso picked up the loose puck in the Nordiques far side corner and passed it back to Anthony Calafiore at the top of the circle. Calafiore then passed it over to Cade Penney on his right. After a couple of exchanges between the two, Penney then passed the puck to Zach Nazzarett at the top of the near side circle and Nazzarett took a shot that was saved by Outen but the rebound came right out to LaRusso who tapped the puck past Outen and into the back of the net for his first goal of the evening.
Blake Humphrey game the Titans a 3 – 2 lead with 8:42 left in the period and New Jersey never looked back. After Humphrey won the draw just outside the Nordiques zone, the puck went back to Penney who passed it up to Tommy Bannister. As Bannister gained the line, he passed the puck to LaRusso on his right at the top of the near side faceoff circle. LaRusso waited and then made a cross-ice pass down low to Humphrey who buried the one-timer past Outen for his tenth goal of the season.
The Titans would double their lead four minutes later on LaRusso’s second goal of the evening. Anthony Mollica picked up the loose puck just inside the Titans zone and backhanded a clearing pass into the offensive zone. LaRusso outhustled the Nordiques defensemen and walked in all alone on Outen and deked the goalie by going from his forehand to his backhand and he lifted the puck past the sprawled-out Nordiques netminder for his twelfth goal of the season.
Maine’s Jack Strauss was called for cross-checking with 2:30 left in the second period to put the Titans on the powerplay. Nineteen seconds later Nazzarett made it 5 – 2. Penney started the play at the top of the point and passed the puck to over to Calafiore on his left. Calafiore sent the puck down low to LaRusso who was to the right of Outen. LaRusso sent a backdoor pass through the goalmouth to Nazzarett who lifted the puck over an outstretched Outen for his tenth goal on the season.
With goals by Humphrey and Nazzarett, the Titans now have six players who have a minimum of double-digit goals on the season.
The Titans added another pair of goals by Jack Ring and Doyle in the third while Maine’s Stefan Owens hit the back of the net to close out the scoring.
Stoever stopped 25 of 28 shots while Outen turned aside 19 of 26. Inside the box score – LaRusso: 4 Total Points (2 goals and 2 assists); Nazzarett: 3 Total Points (1 goal and 2 assists); Doyle: 2 Total Points (2 goals); Humphrey: 2Total Points (1 goal and 1 assists). Click here for the complete box score.
The two teams will complete their weekend series tonight at 7:00 PM. Should the Titans win this evening, it will have them trailing the second place Nordiques by six points with two games in hand.