Spartans Rally, Top No. 3 Notre Dame, 3-2
EAST LANSING – Trailing 2-1 in the third period, Michigan State scored twice in a five-minute span to knock off No. 3/3 Notre Dame, 3-2, on Saturday night at Munn Ice Arena. Logan Lambdin scored the tying goal with 6:12 to go, while Sam Saliba got the winner – his second goal of the game – with 1:10 to play.
The win gave the Spartans four of six points on the weekend from the third-ranked Fighting Irish as MSU improved to 6-5-1 overall and 4-1-1-0 in the Big Ten.
“We kept working and even in the third it was a little tipsy where we just couldn’t get through the wall there in the neutral zone for a long time, but then we got a little timeout and guys kind of caught their breath and we got back at it and an outstanding job,” MSU head coach Danton Cole said. “We got some forechecking going and all of a sudden started getting some shots as an offensive result and looked outstanding. It was a lot of fun and the guys deserved it the way they worked their tails off this weekend.”
With the game tied 1-1, Notre Dame (8-2-2, 4-2-2-1) started the third period with 16 seconds of a 5-on-3 power play. Just after the first Spartan penalty expired, Nick Leivermann snuck a shot from the point past John Lethemon to reclaim the lead for UND, 2-1.
The Spartans weren’t able to generate many scoring chances until later in the third period, but a flip out of the Spartan zone by Josh Nodler sent Lambdin in on a break, sparking the Spartans. Nodler lifted the puck high out of the MSU zone where Lambdin tracked it down near the UND blue line. Lambdin raced in down the right side snapped a low shot that touched off the far post and into the net, eluding goaltender Cale Morris’ outstretched leg to tie the game, 2-2.
The goal energized the Spartans as they kept pressure on Notre Dame. With just over a minute to play Nodler again had the puck, this time in the ND zone, and sent it across to Dennis Cesana at the right point. Cesana dished it to Rosburg in the middle, who waited and then snapped it toward the net. Saliba was standing in front and tipped the puck past Morris, giving the Spartans their first lead, 3-2, with 1:10 to play.
Notre Dame pulled Morris for the extra attacker in the closing seconds, but the Spartans stymied the Irish to hold on for the 3-2 win.
The Spartans finished with a 29-25 edge in shots on goal.
Notre Dame went 2-for-3 on the power play and got its first goal on the man-advantage 2:20 into the opening stanza. Cam Morrison intercepted the puck behind the MSU net and found Mike O’Leary in front, who scored from the top of the crease.
The Spartans tied the game late in the second off a faceoff in the Notre Dame end. The Irish initially won the faceoff in the right circle, but Saliba intercepted the puck from defenseman Spencer Stastney just off the goal line and went to the net. While being tripped, Saliba was able to backhand the puck past Morris to make it 1-1 with 6:43 left in the second period.
John Lethemon finished with 23 saves for MSU, which is unbeaten in its last four games.
The Spartans are back on the road next weekend as they’ll take on Ohio State in Columbus on Saturday and Sunday.