MINNEAPOLIS- Michigan State head coach Tom Anastos was not happy with how his team performed in the third period of last Friday's 5-2 loss to Michigan. He can't complain much this Friday.
The Spartans scored twice on the road against Minnesota in the opening 12:14 and held on for a 2-2 tie against the top-ranked Gophers before winning a six-round shootout 2-1.
"I was happy," Anastos said after Friday's game. "I think we learned some lessons during the course of the week. We talked about growing up. I think we have taken a step forward growing up and I liked how we prepared for the week. I thought we competed pretty hard tonight."
Officially the game ends as a 2-2 tie.
Following chances by both teams, Spartans sophomore Michael Ferrantino broke open the scoring 10:40 into the game with his seventh goal of the season. The Plymouth, Michigan native was set up by senior linemate Matt Berry. It was a combination which, along with freshman Joe Cox, worked well Friday.
"They had a lot of jump tonight," said Anastos about his second line. "They continue to generate some offense for us."
Michigan State (8-12-3, 2-4-3-3 Big Ten) freshman Villiam Haag added his sixth goal 91 seconds later when he beat Adam Wilcox (Tampa Bay Lightning) on the short side. The Spartans nearly added a third, however, Minnesota (18-2-3, 7-0-2-0 Big Ten) was able to cut the lead in half when Gopher freshman Hudson Fasching (Los Angeles Kings draft pick) scored a PP goal (the 10th time in 11 games the home team has scored on the power play) with 55.6 seconds left.
The 6'2", 207 lbs forward now has three goals in his last three games. Fasching's head coach, Don Lucia, is happy with how the freshman has gone back to what is working for him by using his size rather than just finesse.
At the same time, the power play continues to click with Travis Boyd (Washington Capitals) and Fasching finding one another.
"I think Boyd has really found his groove on that side," Fasching said. "I''ve been able to find the pucks he's been able to fire in and his shots have been coming in good."
Still, Michigan State was able to clog lanes and block shots despite the Gophers getting more opportunities as the game continued. Both Wilcox, who made 28 saves Friday, and Spartans sophomore goaltender Jake Hildebrand, who made 26, made multiple saves that kept their teams in the game.
Wilcox's biggest came early in the second period as he moved from his right to left to stop Greg Wolfe on an odd-man rush. Hildebrand, meanwhile, stopped a couple shorthanded attempts and Justin Kloos hit both posts on a power play one-timer.
"I thought both goaltenders were sharp," said Lucia. "They made some good plays. (Michigan State) make it difficult trying to get pucks through, they block a lot of shots and it was just a hard-fought game."
It was Kloos, however, who tied the game at 2. The freshman forward tipped a Brady Skjei (New York Rangers) shot past Hildebrand off his skate 5:27 into the third period. The play was initially ruled a goal on the play and was upheld.
The Spartans also had a call go against them in the shootout where Joe Cox's goal was overturned. Referees told Anastos after the game that the net had come off its moorings before the puck crossed the line.
That didn't matter. After Berry and Taylor Cammarata (New York Islanders) scored in the fifth round, MSU forward J.T. Stenglein beat Wilcox in the sixth. Hildebrand saved Sam Warning's opportunity and for the second time this season (Michigan State also beat the Gophers in a shootout on December 6 in East Lansing) the Spartans got the extra point.
Calls or not, that isn't something to complain about. Michigan State remains the only team to take points in Big Ten play from Minnesota, whose 13 game unbeaten streak is the longest in the nation, and a chance to extend a 7 point lead over Michigan and Wisconsin. Will the dropped point cost the Gophers?
As Lucia said, "We'll find out in 6 weeks."
-Minnesota played with five defensemen Friday night. Junior Ben Marshall was suspended and freshman D Michael Brodzinski is injured. Sophomore A.J. Michaelson was listed as the sixth D and took warm-ups there before solely playing on the penalty kill. Lucia was happy with their effort, which was an improvement over the last time the Gophers had only 5 on the blue line.
"For the most part they did a good job. A couple times you could see they got fatigued or caught out on shifts," he said. "When you're tired you can make some mental mistakes, but they hung in there pretty well tonight."
-Fasching on the shootout: "It's a little stressful to be honest."
-Travis Boyd played in his 100th career game.
Michigan State: Ferrantino (SAVED), Sorenson (SAVED), Cox (goal comes off by Wilcox, after a review NOT given to him), Haag (SAVED), Matt Berry (SCORES), J.T. (SCORES)
Minnesota: Rau (SAVED), Ambroz (SAVED, Boyd (MISSES), M. Reilly (MISSES), Cammarata (SCORES), Warning (SAVED) ***Spartans win shootout 2-1 in six rounds
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- Harvard vs. Princeton pregame line charts
- Gophers Hockey: Ben Marshall suspended 1 game & how this impacts Minnesota
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Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation. You can also follow him on Twitter -- Follow @gopherstate