ST. PAUL- Penn State redshirt junior Taylor Holstrom kicked some life into what was at that point a fairly lifeless game at the appropriately named Xcel Energy Center. His teammate Zach Saardid one better in overtime, though.
Saar scored with 7:13 remaining in a lively, pressure-filled second overtime for a 2-1 win Thursday afternoon.
Holstrom's breakaway goal with 22.8 seconds remaining in the second period gave the Nittany Lions a 1-0 lead, and was enough to overcome Michigan tying and earns PSU a date with Wisconsin tomorrow (March 21, 2014) afternoon.
Michigan and Penn State kicked off the Big Ten conference hockey tournament Thursday in front of a sparse crowd.
The Wolverines, needing a win to guarantee a berth in the NCAA Tournament, came out flat early five days after a 6-2 win over Minnesota. While the Nittany Lions were eventually put on its heels, sophomore goaltender Matthew Skoff held his own, making 52 saves.
His counterpart, Zach Nagelvoort, was even more instrumental. The freshman goaltender stopped an astonishing career-high 63 shots, including a breakaway save on Tommy Olczyk, while the Wolverines defense got in the way of several more. Penn State was unable to take advantage, though. Several power plays consisted
However, Holstrom was able to beat Nagelvoort on a breakaway. The Yorba Linda, California native was left alone at center ice, picked up a carelessly played puck at mid-ice and skated in all alone for his eighth goal of the season.
Nittany Lions fourth liner Dylan Richard had Penn State's two best chances of the third. His first saw the freshman beating two Michigan defensemen before getting taken down by senior Mac Bennett. The Wolverines killed the ensuing penalty and tied it up minutes later.
Sophomore Boo Nieves picked off a Penn State pass behind the PSU net and found teammate Phil Di Giuseppe, who beat Skoff for his 13th goal of the season, and eighth goal in nine games with 8:53 remaining in regulation.
That held until Saar's OT winner, which came after chances in the first overtime by David Goodwin (saved on the back door for Nagelvoort's 50th save) and Eric Scheid kicking away an Andrew Copp shot that laid on the PSU goal line. The Richland, Michigan native took a pass from Richard off the face-off and beat Nagelvoort for the biggest win in program history
Penn State, playing in the 32nd longest game in NCAA History, now gets the quick turnaround.
With the loss, Michigan's NCAA Tournament hopes drop horribly. The Wolverines now have a 22% chance to make the Tournament and need massive help.
PENN STATE 1 - Taylor Holstrom (8) (Luke Juha, David Goodwin 19:43 EV)
MICHIGAN 1 - Phil Di Giuseppe (13) (Cristoval "Boo" Nieves 11:07)
PENN STATE 2 Zach Saar (Dylan Richard 12:47)
PSU 13 - 16 - 15 - (13) - (8) -- 65
MICH 11 - 11 - 8 - (15) - (8) -- 53
Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation. You can also follow him on Twitter -- Follow @gopherstate