The Titans split Games 3 and 4 in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, which sets the stage for a decisive Game 5 against the Knights at Middletown Sports Complex tonight.
New Jersey won Game 3 on Friday by a score of 4-3 and had a chance to close out the series yesterday. Instead, Christian Stoever pitched a 51-save shutout in a Knights’ 1-0 victory last night to stave off elimination and bring the East Division semifinal back to New Jersey.
On Friday’s win, the Titans jumped up to a 3-0 lead in the first period. Gavin Gulash opened the scoring at 2:25 of the period when Ryan Naumovski picked up the puck behind the Knights’ goal and slid a pass to the low slot where Gulash buried his first goal of the playoffs. Three minutes and one second later, Andrew Husted doubled the lead with a shot from the point that found its way past Stoever. Tate Singleton capped off the first period scoring with a power-play tally, as he re-directed a shot from Naumovski for his first of the playoffs.
Gabe Temple scored the lone goal in the second period, driving to the net and going around Matt Ladd with a backhander to put the Knights on the board.
The beginning of the third period seemed like a tug-of-war between the two teams. Wilkes-Barre cut the deficit to one when Curtis Carlson buried a loose puck on a net-front scramble at 3:59 of the third period. Wade Novak restored the Titans’ two-goal lead a few minutes later when he chipped a shot over Stoever’s glove and picked up his second of the playoffs. Just 49 seconds later, Morrissey cut the deficit back down to one when he stripped the puck away from Eric Manoukian and ripped a shot blocker side past Matt Ladd.
It was the last goal Ladd would give up, however. As the Knights pressed late in the game for the tying goal, he shut the door and made some huge stops, including a sliding blocker save on a shot from Justin Engelkes from a Knights’ two-on-one.
The tables turned the following night when Stoever stole the show, stopping all 51 shots he faced in the 1-0 victory. Temple stuffed a rebound past Ladd for a power-play goal at 12:59 of the first period, and that was all the Knights needed to win the game and even the series.
The back-and-forth series will conclude tonight with a winner-take-all Game 5 at Middletown. Dating back to last season, it’s the second consecutive series that the Titans have reached a Game 5, and will look to reach the East Division final for the second time in a row. The winner of tonight’s game will face the Philadelphia Rebels, who defeated the Northeast Generals in five games.
Puck drop is slated for 5 p.m. at Middletown Sports Complex, and anyone wearing Titans gear will be granted free admission. You can follow @NAHLTitans on Twitter for updates and watch the game tonight on hockeytv.com.