East Lansing, Mich. - Junior Tim Kennedy had a goal and an assist - his first goal since the calendar turned to 2008 - as Michigan State earned a 3-0 shutout victory over Western Michigan on Friday night at Munn Ice Arena. MSU snapped a three-game losing streak against the Broncos, and improved to 19-8-5, 15-5-3 in conference play. The teams will meet tomorrow in Kalamazoo, with a 4:35 puck drop for a game that will be aired live on FSN Detroit.
Jeff Lerg made 23 saves in his third shutout of the year, his ninth career whitewash. The three shutouts ties his single-season best, set in his freshman and sophomore seasons. The 23 saves tied the fewest number he's had in a shutout victory, set earlier this season in a 4-0 victory at Ohio State.
Michigan State outshot their visitors 15-6 in the opening frame, and kept control in their own end for lengthy stretches. Freshman goaltender Jerry Kuhn made his best saves of the period at 15:04, when he made a pad save on Chris Mueller, then a flashy glove save when Mueller tried to put back the rebound.
Bryan Lerg got back in the scoring column, giving the Spartans a 1-0 lead right before the intermission. He took the feed from linemate Tim Crowder as he streaked up the right side and launched a shot from the top of the circle. His offering went off the glove hand of Kuhn and bounced up and over his shoulder for the senior's team-leading 16th goal of the season.
The teams skated through a scoreless middle frame, but Western Michigan held an 11-8 edge in shots on goal in the middle frame, thanks in part to three power-play chances. Michigan State pushed its lead to 2-0 on WMU's fourth power play chance on the night early in the third period. Sophomore Tyler Ludwig put a shot on net, and it was saved by Jeff Lerg - and pushed to the right wall for Tim Kennedy. Kennedy and Abdelkader stormed out of the zone on a two-on-one break; Kennedy held the puck as Abdelkader went to the net, and Kennedy's offering beat Kuhn over his glove-hand shoulder.
Mueller added to the lead at 9:29. Kennedy cycled the puck low in the right corner, and moved behind the net to the left post. He threw the puck in front for Mueller, who deposited his seventh goal of the season. MSU outshot Western 16-6 in the final frame, but most of Western's chances were relatively routine chances for Jeff Lerg.
MSU moves two points behind Miami, 6-5 losers at Ferris State on Friday, for second place in the CCHA standings with five games to play in the regular season. Michigan kept pace at the top ofthe league with a 4-2 victory at home over Lake Superior.