ANN ARBOR – Three second-period goals by Michigan broke a 1-1 tie as the Wolverines defeated the Michigan State hockey team, 5-3, on Friday in Ann Arbor in the first of two games between the teams this weekend.
“They skated better than us definitely for the first 40 minutes,” MSU head coach Danton Cole said. “I didn’t think the energy and emotion was on our side and it’s hard to play hockey that way, so give them credit and we’ll have to find a little more of that tomorrow.”
Jack Becker gave Michigan a 1-0 lead 3:32 into the game, but the Spartans (10-14-5, 6-9-4-2) struck to tie it after killing a penalty near the end of the first period.
With a penalty expiring, Taro Hirose got control of the puck and headed up ice, then dished it off to Dennis Cesana on the right side just before entering the U-M zone. Cesana sent the puck cross-ice to Sam Saliba, who moved between the circles where he swept the puck past goaltender Hayden Lavigne.
Michigan (11-11-6, 7-7-4-2) came back to reclaim the lead with three goals in the second period.
Michel Pastujov made it 2-1 when he took a pass streaking down the slot and beat goaltender Drew DeRidder with a low wrister at the 2:52 mark.
Becker got his second of the night with 5:24 to go in the second to make it 3-1, while Will Lockwood struck 3:15 later to put the Spartans in a 4-1 hole.
The Spartans cut the deficit to 4-2 just over four minutes into the third period. Logan Lambdin won the faceoff in the left side of the U-M zone back to Austin Kamer, who snapped the puck over the glove of Lavigne from the left side of the circle for his first goal of the season.
Michigan pushed the lead to 5-2 with 7:40 to go on a goal by Michael Pastujov that was originally waved off on the ice for goaltender interference, but the call was then overturned after replay.
Wojciech Stahowiak got MSU back to within two with 4:41 to play, punching a rebound past Lavigne from the top of the crease.
Lambdin picked up an assist on the goal – his second of the night.
U-M outshot the Spartans in each of the first two periods, before MSU outshot the Wolverines, 11-7 in the third. Michigan finished with a 36-23 edge in shots on goal.
The Spartans extinguished all five U-M power plays, but also came up empty on the man-advantage, going 0-for-3.
The two teams will meet again on Saturday in the Duel in the D at Little Caesars Arena at 7 p.m.
“Where we’re at in the season and the way the standings are, every game kind of has that feeling if this was the playoffs you have to win tomorrow or go home,” Cole said. “It is a big game, but we’ve been taking them in order one at a time.
“We have to take care of the next game we have - that’s tomorrow and it starts right now.”