Big Ten Hockey: Minnesota defeats Michigan State 3-2; takes 4 points on the road

Christian Isackson (26) scored a goal and had an assist in Saturday's 3-2 win over Michigan State - Minnesota Athletics

The Gopher 4th line of Christian Isackson, Gabe Guertler and Ryan Reilly were on the ice for both of Minnesota's even strength goals.

After tying 2-2 and losing a shootout to Michigan State, Saturday's 3-2 victory on the road was just what the doctor ordered for the Gophers.

Christian Isackson (Buffalo Sabres), Seth Ambroz (Columbus Blue Jackets) and Mike Reilly (Blue Jackets) scored for top-ranked Minnesota (12-2-2, 3-0-1-0 Big Ten) in a game that was not as close as the score indicated.

Villiam Haag and Michael Ferrantino tallied goals for Michigan State (5-8-1, 0-1-0-1 Big Ten) while Spartans goaltender Jake Hildebrand made 35 saves (one night after being shelled for 44).

The Gophers rebounded from Friday's game (officially a tie, but players treated the point lost from the shootout as a loss) and dominated puck possession and chances in the first period. Shots on goal were 17-3 Minnesota. Shot attempts featured an even further gap 32-7 with the goals reading 2-0 Gophers after 20 minutes.

Isackson got Minnesota on the board 11:47 into the game when Gabe Guertler found the junior forward next to Hildebrand and Isackson did the rest. The goal was Isackson's first of the season while Guertler, a freshman from Fort Lauderdale, Florida who was suspended the first month of the season, picked up his first collegiate point.

Seth Ambroz made it 2-0 nearly seven minutes later with his fifth goal in three games. This time around, the junior forward, who leads Minnesota with eight goals, scored on the power play.

Mike Reilly recorded his Big Ten leading seventh goal as a defenseman 6:05 into the second period when he finished a play that began with his brother Ryan, playing on the fourth line with Isackson and Guertler in his first game this season, put pressure on MSU and was able to get the puck in the Spartans end.

Michigan State wouldn't go down without a fight Saturday. Despite the 3-0 hole at home, the team battled until the game's final tenth of a second. Literally.

After Haag, who had two points Friday, continued to be a villain to Gopher fans with the first power play goal scored on Minnesota in three-plus games with 4:43 remaining in the second period, Ferrantino beat Adam Wilcox, who had 19 saves Saturday, with .1 of a second left on the clock in regulation.

With the win, Minnesota sits on top of the Big Ten standings with ten points in four games. That includes a four point weekend (3 points for a regulation/OT win, 2 for a shootout win, 1 for a shootout loss) on the road against the Spartans.

Michigan State returns to action next Saturday (December 14) at home against Ferris State before the outdoor Great Lakes Invitational at Comerica Park two weeks later.

Minnesota is idle until the Mariucci Classic on January 3-4, 2014.

--

Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation and College Hockey News. You can also follow him on Twitter --

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