EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Michigan State had a lot fewer shots-on-goal but a lot more shots-in-net in keeping its league title hopes alive.
Linemates Justin Abdelkader and Tim Kennedy had the two biggest goals 18 seconds apart early in third period to help the Spartans beat top-ranked Michigan 5-2 and tighten the race on Friday night.
"Those two goals were killers," Michigan State coach Rick Comley said. "They were a huge momentum-builder for us. And you can't overcome something like that."
Jeff Petry and Tim Crowder tallied near the start and the end of the first period in Munn Arena, and goalie Jeff Lerg did the rest, stopping 31 shots for the Spartans (17-5-3 CCHA, 21-8-5).
"It wasn't too tough a night to be honest," Jeff Lerg said. "I'm sure tomorrow will be a lot tougher for me. But I'd rather play a game where I face more shots."
The Wolverines (18-3-4, 25-4-4) controlled play in the first two periods, outshooting Michigan State 27-9. Their only goal in that span was a blast from the slot by Max Pacioretty on a power play.
"I thought we played well for two periods," Michigan coach Red Berenson said. "We had an edge in scoring chances. But the third goal was a backbreaker. Those two four-on-four goals were huge."
Wolverines goalie Billy Sauer faced just three shots in the first period and failed to stop two of them. His saves percentage improved but the scoreboard didn't.
"We got better as the game went on," Comley said of a 13-6 edge in third period shots. "I thought we played tight in the first two periods. I was concerned about our energy and Michigan's speed. But we wanted this game badly."
The Spartans started the third period shorthanded but killed a penalty for 1:04 then broke the game open about 4 minutes later. Abdelkader's shot near the left boards caught Sauer by surprise, and Kennedy rammed home a rebound to end the suspense.
"I didn't know the puck was in till I skated around the net and saw it," Abdelkader said. "The puck was sitting on end a little bit and knuckled on him. That was the loudest I've ever heard this building."
"It was just a bad goal," Berenson said. "The goalie misread it, and it got away from him. It happens to the best of them."
After Ben Winnett jammed home a rebound for the Wolverines to make it 4-2 with 8:15 left, Michigan immediately drew a penalty and soon faced a two-man disadvantage. Before the second penalty elapsed, the Spartans added an insurance goal by Brian Lerg.
"The game meant a lot, and the building was awesome," Brian Lerg said. "Going into the third period, we said, 'Let's do it for the seniors.' Being up 5-2 was the best feeling I've had in here. But we're only half-done. None of us have never swept Michigan."
Michigan State has two wins and a tie in three tries against the Wolverines this season. The rivals meet again Saturday night at Detroit's Joe Louis Arena as the Spartans and Miami (Ohio), which also has 37 points, will try to draw within one point of Michigan with one weekend left in the regular season.
"It sets up a barnburner tomorrow night," Comley said. "We know they're going to come at us hard. Miami won tonight, too."
"We're still chasing another title," said Abdelkader, whose last-minute goal made Michigan State the 2007 NCAA champion. "And we didn't want Michigan to win the league here and parade all over our ice."