For the second straight night the Penn State Nittany Lions gave everything it had and for the second straight night, the University of Minnesota pulled off a win.
Playing on the road in front of 6,154 fans in Pegula Arena, sophomore goalie Adam Wilcox (Tampa Bay Lightning draft pick) made 36 saves while keeping Penn State at bay in a 5-2 win. Just as important was the Golden Gophers getting scoring from two players Monday who haven't lit the lamp lately .
"Last night I didn't get any breaks," said Minnesota (15-2-3, 5-0-1-0 Big Ten) forward Sam Warning, who scored twice. "Tonight I thought I got some breaks, so I was fortunate to get two goals."
Like Sunday's 3-2 win, the Gophers took an early lead in "Hockey Valley." This time with former Minnesota and current PSU forward Max Gardiner (St. Louis Blues) in the box for hooking, it was Travis Boyd (Washington Capitals). The junior forward sniped a shot past teammate Kyle Rau's screen of freshman goaltender Eamon McAdam 2:25 into the game for his sixth goal of the season.
While it was the only successful power play for the visitors in 5 attempts, Monday was the sixth straight game the Gophers, who also killed all 3 Nittany Lions power plays, have scored with the man advantage.
Penn State (4-12-1, 0-4-0-0 Big Ten) did not roll over after the early goal, though. McAdam, getting the nod against a night after making 42 saves, stopped top-ranked Minnesota's effort throughout the first ten minutes. The Nittany Lions then pestered Wilcox for much of the next 25 minutes.
Prior to Warning one-timing a Justin Kloos pass with 2:45 left in the second for his first goal since October 19 against Bemidji State, there were several good chances for the home team to tie the game.
"I thought Penn State played very well," Gopher head coach Don Lucia said. "They're a big, strong, physical team. When they lean on you they can eliminate you. It became our speed versus their size."
Warning did not have to wait nearly three months for his next goal. Intermission included, he barely had to wait thirty minutes.The junior forward and Minnesota's points leader with 23 (7G-16A) scored on a backhand 6:06 into the third period for a 3-0 lead.
McAdam made 20 saves Monday.
It was the first of 4 third period goals. Kenny Brooks broke the shutout for Penn State midway through the final frame when his shot from behind the net went off Wilcox and in. 17 seconds later, however, Nate Condon (Colorado Avalanche) tipped a Ben Marshall (Detroit Red Wings) shot to make it 4-1. It proved to be needed insurance.
Penn State's Curtis Loik got the Nittany Lions back within 2 when he beat Wilcox top-shelf with 3:30 remaining in the game, but that was as close as the home team got. Justin Kloos added an empty netter.
Winning on the road is not easy and to get six points (the first road sweep in Big Ten history) is a good weekend. It wasn't the prettiest, but getting Warning and Condon, who hadn't scored since October 27th against Boston College, back in the fold is important. So is coming back to win in the third period, which happened Sunday.
And so is responding to a goal with one right away. Good teams do that. Right now, Minnesota is a good team. While Penn State played well Monday, the Gophers are finding ways to win in several different ways with contributions from several different players.
Penn State next hosts Michigan State at Pegula Arena Friday (on BTN) and Saturday. Minnesota, meanwhile, plays Ohio State outdoors Friday at TCF Bank Stadium in the 2014 Hockey City Classic (on BTN) and indoors Saturday at Mariucci Arena (on Fox Sports North). Saturday's game is part of Hockey Day Minnesota.
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Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation and College Hockey News. You can also follow him on Twitter -- Follow @gopherstate