TRENTON, N.J. - The third period again proved to be the undoing of the Wheeling Nailers on Friday night at the Sun National Bank Center. The Nailers and Trenton Titans entered the final 20 minutes tied at 2-2, but Justin Taylor and Eric Baier scored to give the Titans a 4-2 victory.
The Nailers (6-10-5 - 17) are winless in their last four and have fallen 18 points behind first-place Reading. The hard times lately can be attributed to severe third-period struggles.
Wheeling blew a 4-1 lead in a shootout loss last Saturday, then allowed three goals Wednesday after also being 2-2 after two periods.
Trenton (9-11-3 - 21) got on the board at 6:50 of the first when Kelly Zajac beat Wheeling goaltender Scott Darling for his third goal of the season.
But Wheeling struck back as former Trenton player Matt Germain tallied his first goal of the season at 7:18 of the period. It was assisted by Joe Stejskal and Luke Pither, who also used to play for Trenton.
Zajac got the lead back, however, as he tallied his fourth 9:04 into the second period. The Nailers fought back though, as Paul Crowder netted his fourth of the season, this one on the power play and assisted by Cody Wild and Chris Higgins at 14:06.
Wheeling1 1 0 - 2
Trenton1 1 2 - 4
1st Period-1, Trenton, Zajac 3 (Noebels), 6:50. 2, Wheeling, Germain 1 (Stejskal, Pither), 7:18. Penalties-Drewiske Tre (tripping), 3:00.
2nd Period-3, Trenton, Zajac 4 (Schultz, Alvarez), 9:04. 4, Wheeling, Crowder 4 (Wild, Higgins), 14:06 (PP). Penalties-Slater Tre (tripping), 2:42; Fergus Whl (hooking), 11:51; Taylor Tre (roughing), 13:54; Chupp Whl (roughing), 17:25; Taylor Tre (double - roughing), 17:25.
3rd Period-5, Trenton, Taylor 3 (Goggin, Mangene), 7:20. 6, Trenton, Baier 2 (Nagy, Drewiske), 15:43. Penalties-Sneep Whl (cross-checking), 2:47; Minella Whl (slashing ), 10:55.
Shots on Goal-Wheeling 10-19-5-34. Trenton 12-12-11-35.
Power-Play Opportunities-Wheeling 1-4; Trenton 0-3.
Goalies-Wheeling, Darling 3-5-0-1 (35 shots-31 saves). Trenton, Wedgewood 7-7-1-0 (34 shots-32 saves).
Referee-Andy Thackaberry (22); Linesmen-Patrick Turcotte (35), Brian Oliver (36).
Taylor netted his third for what proved to be the game-winner and Baier deposited his second.
Scott Wedgewood picked up a victory with a 32-save performance. Darling, who made 31 saves, suffered a defeat.
The Nailers, in the midst of an eight game in 11 days stretch, are at home tonight against Fort Wayne and on Sunday play host to Evansville.