The visiting Johnstown Tomahawks scored three unanswered third period goals en route to a 5 – 3 win over the New Jersey Titans to split the weekend series between the East Division’s top two teams. Despite the loss, the Titans remain five points ahead of the Tomahawks in the standings with four games in hand.
In another playoff type atmosphere, it was a back-and-forth game with the Tomahawks taking an initial two goal lead.
Pavel Kharin scored at 2:54 into the opening period to give the Tomahawks and early 1 – 0 lead. After Johnstown’s goaltender Alex Tracy made a save, the rebound went out to the near side half wall where it was picked up by Andrew Murphy who skated up along the boards and into the offensive zone with Kharin. As Murphy reached the top of the faceoff circle, he sent a cross-ice pass to Kharin who redirected the puck past Titans netminder Patrick Pugliese for his sixth goal of the season.
With 2:35 into the middle stanza, Nick DeSantis was called for tripping to give the visitors the man advantage. As time was winding down on the power play, Ryan Poorman set up the play at the top of the point. He passed the puck down to Bennett Stockdale at the top of the circle. Stockdale circled back towards the top of the slot and took a long wrist shot that was deflected by Murphy past Pugliese to make it a 2 – 0 game.
It was then the Titans turn to score three unanswered goals in the second period.
At 7:28 of the period, Michael Outzen put the Titans on the scoreboard. After a faceoff deep inside the Tomahawks zone, the puck went back to Johnstown’s Brendan Blair who sent a high clearing pass off the glass, but it was gloved down by Danny Dimon at the far side point. Outzen picked up the loose puck and went to make a centering pass, but it hit Johnstown’s Tristan Poissant in the leg. As the puck fell, DeSantis picked it up and passed it to Dimon breaking along the boards. As Dimon reached the goal line, he made a centering pass out front that Outzen redirected past Tracy for his thirteenth goal of the season.
Johnstown’s Ethan Webb was called for interference at 8:16 of the period to put the Titans on the power play. Nineteen seconds later Kyler Head tied the game. Ole Andersen picked up the loose puck at the top of the near side faceoff circle and made a backhand pass towards the net that hit a Tomahawks’ defender. Matt Cameron picked up the puck and skated towards the goal line. As Cameron took a shot, it was blocked out front and picked up by Dimon. The assistant captain took a turnaround shot that was blocked but Head slapped it in past Tracy to make it 2 – 2.
With 3:12 left in the period, Brad Zona was called for interference to give the Tomahawks the man advantage. Halfway through the power play Poissant took a quick shot from the top of the near side faceoff circle that went wide of Pugliese and rolled up along the boards. As Johnstown’s Max Kouznetsov tried to keep the puck in the zone, he lost control of it and Cade Penney picked it up and entered the offensive zone on a two-on-one with Cam Gendron. As Penney reached the faceoff dot, he sent a cross-ice pass to Gendron who redirected the puck past Tracy to give the Titans their first lead of the game with 2:21 remaining in the second.
Johnstown’s Matthew Doyle would knot the score at three just 1:53 into the third period. Webb picked up the loose puck at the top of his own faceoff circle and passed up to Kouznetsov who entered the offensive zone along the near side boards. As Kouznetsov skated across the goal mouth, Pugliese made the save but Doyle jammed in the rebound for his second goal of the year.
Gendron was called for high sticking at 6:09 of the third to give the Tomahawks the man advantage. Less than a minute later the Tomahawks regained the lead on Carson Gallagher’s seventeenth goal of the season. After Gallagher took a shot that was blocked out front, the puck went to the far side half wall where it was picked up by Stockdale. Stockdale passed it over to Gallagher at the top of the slot and he took a shot that found its way through a maze and past Pugliese to give the Tomahawks the 4 – 3 lead.
Johnstown’s Poorman scored a power play goal with 7:14 left in the game to close out the scoring.
Pugliese stopped 32 of 37 shots while Tracy turned aside 35 of 38. Click here for the box score.
The loss ended a Titans five game win streak also concluded a five game homestand in which they went 4 – 1. They now will travel to Maine for the second time three weeks to play the Nordiques next weekend.