The penalty kill had gone so well. Until it didn't.
Minnesota (4-6-0, 0-0-0-0 Big Ten) entered Friday's game with #7 St. Cloud State (10-3-0, 5-1-0-0 NCHC) having stopped 14 consecutive penalty kills going back to October 23rd and 7th in the country with 90.7%. That appeared to continue for much of the Gophers' first PK. SCSU was successful moving the puck around yet could not get an open lane until the final 15 seconds.
The Huskies' patience paid off with David Morley's goal. St. Cloud State, which is fourth in the nation in scoring on the power play, then added another momentum-swinging power play goal early in the third period to go two for three with the man advantage in a 3-2 victory.
"They have got a good power play. They have got some skilled guys that have been doing that for a long time and they are about 25%," said Minnesota head coach Don Lucia after Friday's loss. "That was a big part of the game, special teams. They beat us 2-1 on the special teams.
"I thought we needed to score a power play goal tonight to give ourselves a chance. We did that, but we weren't good enough to win it."
Minnesota was able to get a power play goal from Jake Bischoff.
For the Gophers, it was one thing to know about St. Cloud State's offense and special teams play, but another to stop the Huskies. After giving up the two power play goals the team is 18th in the nation with 85.7% (30 of 35) success.
"We didn't do the job we wanted to keep them off the power play and defend it," said Ryan Collins.
Minnesota will get another chance at home in Sunday's series finale from Mariucci Arena. The Gophers spent Saturday's off-day as a normal gameday mixed with a small practice to go over a few things.
Minnesota only is making one personnel change from Friday as Ryan Norman replaces A.J. Michaelson.
Where the lines are listed, however, seem to be telling of getting more out of players. The team's first line for much of the last month - including Friday's loss - is together yet listed as the fourth Sunday. That is also true defensively. These moves also has the fourth forward line as the second and its most successful forward grouping Friday - the second line of Leon Bristedt-Tommy Novak-Hudson Fasching - as the first line.
Eric Schierhorn likely continues his streak of starts.
St. Cloud State, meanwhile, makes one change. Freshman forward Jacob Benson is in for Daniel Tedesco on the fourth line. Charlie Lindgren appears to be starting once again following his 25 save performance Friday.
University of Minnesota Golden Gophers
Leon Bristedt (#18) - Tommy Novak (#17) - Hudson Fasching (#24)
Ryan Norman (#23) - Darian Romanko (#26) - Jack Ramsey (#16)
Brent Gates Jr. (#10) - Vinni Lettieri (#19) - Taylor Cammarata (#13)
Connor Reilly (#21) - Justin Kloos (#25) - Tyler Sheehy (#22)
Steve Johnson (#4) - Jack Glover (#3)
Jake Bischoff (#28) - Michael Brodzinski (#20)
Nick Seeler (#11) - Ryan Collins (#6)
Eric Schierhorn (#37)
Nick Lehr (#34)
Ryan Coyne (#31)
St. Cloud State University Huskies
Jimmy Murray (#21) - Kalle Kossila (#11) - Patrick Russell (#63)
Joey Benik (#9) - David Morley (#13) - Patrick Newell (#14)
Mikey Eyssimont (#19) - Judd Peterson (#18) - Robby Jackson (#23)
Ben Storm (#4) - Blake Winiecki (#42) - Jacob Benson (#17)
Jimmy Schuldt (#22) - Ethan Prow (#12)
Nathan Widman (#5) - Will Borgen (#20)
Niklas Nevalainen (#7) - Jon Lizotte (#16)
Charlie Lindgren (#35)
Rasmus Reijola (#45)
Sunday's game begins at 6:00 p.m. CT and airs on Fox Sports North.
Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation mostly covering both the University of Minnesota and Big Ten. You can also follow him on Twitter -- Follow @gopherstate