Michigan State hockey (10-15-5,6-10-4 Big Ten) fell flat against Michigan (12-11-6,8-7-4) for the second straight game as they were downed 5-2 in the Duel in the D Saturday night at Little Caesars Arena.
Freshman goaltender Drew DeRidder kept the Spartans within reach much like Friday night at Yost Arena, saving 25 shots.
The Spartans held Michigan to just seven shots on goal in the opening period, but failed to create any quality chances, recording only four shots.
Dakota Raabe, assisted by Quinn Hughes, opened up the scoring for U-M. Hughes remained involved, sending a shot from the point that found traffic and allowed Will Lockwood to capitalize; the Wolverines jumped to an early 2-0 lead just after eight minutes in the first.
“They had a really good shift in our offensive zone and we got kind of lost in that," MSU coach Danton Cole said. "And Quinn (Hughes), he's going to find the guy who's open in the slot there. Then the power play, we got a little twisted off the draw and boom-boom. All of the sudden it's 2-0.”
At the beginning of the second period as a 4-on-4 ensued from the first, junior forward Taro Hirose failed to capitalize on his best opportunity of the night. The Spartans' star was stuffed attempting to go five-hole on a 1-on-1 with Strauss Mann. Hirose would draw a larger reaction from the split LCA crowd moments later, upending and sending Lockwood sprawling onto the ice.
The Spartans would continue to create chances and nearly break through on their first goal that eluded them for the majority of the contest. It looked as though MSU would finally get on the board when junior forward Patrick Khodorenko passed up an open net from inside 10 feet, dropping the puck back along with the Spartans’ chances in the matchup.
“I always tell guys when you get a chance like that, that should give you confidence,” Cole said. “I don't think that line's hurting for a confidence. They'll keep going, but they had some chances tonight and they didn't go in and sometimes it's just math. The puck goes in, goes in, goes in and then you hit a night where nothing goes in. So you stick with it.”
MSU would continue to create rebound chances amidst traffic, but the attempts remained futile throughout the remainder of the second period. Michigan would threaten to stretch the lead to three, but Garrett Van Wyhe was called for charging the goaltender and his goal waved off.
The Wolverines would continue to apply pressure in the early minutes of the third period, as Nolan Moyle extended the lead to 3-0 on a breakaway.
The Spartans would finally capitalize on a power play with just under seven minutes left in the third as sophomore forward Mitchell Lewandowski capitalized on a rebound. Lewandowski would net his second goal of the night two minutes later, cutting U-M’s lead to 3-2 and giving way to an interesting final four minutes.
“Overall I think we gave ourselves a chance to come back there in the third. We stuck with our process. We had every guy going in there and there was no quit on the bench,” Lewandowski said. “Going into the period 3-0 down and you come back to make it 3-2. So we gave ourselves a chance there, goalie pulled and everything. But we definitely gave ourselves a chance to come back in that game.”
But even as “go green, go white” chants started to rumble from the red seats, the Spartans effort was too little too late.
The Wolverines would secure a pair of empty-net goals to seal the victory.