After a late third period victory versus Michigan last weekend, the MSU hockey team fell on the other side of it Friday night with a heartbreaking 3-2 loss at Penn State.
Another slow start to start off a series plagued the Spartans yet again. The first period was all Penn State, outshooting the Spartans 17 to 5.
Seven minutes into the game, the Nittany Lions got on board, converting a two-on-one chance with a cross-crease pass.
Hoping the goal would wake up the Spartans, it actually did the opposite and PSU continued to fly around with lots of energy. The first period would end with two nearly consecutive high sticking penalties by Michigan State - the first on Jagger Joshua and the second Mitchell Lewandowski.
The Spartans killed both penalties superbly, with the second penalty leaking into the second period. The first intermission and killing both penalties seemed to light a spark in Michigan State’s game as they looked like a completely different team.
Four minutes into the second period, MSU was able to bring the game to a 1-1 tie as Josh Nodler floated into the Penn State zone and threw a backhanded shot on net to beat PSU starting goaltender Oskar Autio.
The goal was Nodler’s second consecutive goal after scoring the game-winner against Michigan and not scoring all year long. He continues to lead the team in points with nine.
Michigan State was then able to gain the lead with a little bit of puck luck. Just 15 seconds into the third period, Lewandowski from behind the net threw a centering pass, hoping to find the stick of someone wearing green and white. Instead, it found the skate of a Penn State defenseman, and ricocheted into the net, giving the Spartans a fluky 2-1 lead.
For the remainder of the third period, Michigan State outplayed PSU for the most part, especially defensively. After allowing 33 shots on goal in the first two periods, Penn State generated just five shots on goal in the third, part of that being a result of a strong defensive effort that led to 23 blocks by MSU.
“There is a good and a bad," Head Coach Danton Cole said after the game. "The bad point is you have that many blocked shots then you say the puck is in the offensive zone a lot and they are taking a lot of shots. But, you have to cover. You have to be in those lanes and you have to have courage. Those are things that we look for in our guys.”
With just over four and a half minutes to go in the game, Penn State’s Chase McLane took a tripping penalty and it looked like MSU had the victory all but secured up. However, the Spartan’s stud defensemen Dennis Cesana took a bad slashing penalty towards the end of the man advantage, giving the Nittany Lions a sense of hope.
PSU pulled their goalie making it six on four, and the two-skater advantage proved to be too much for the Spartans penalty kill without Cesana as Connor MacEachern hammered home a game-tying goal with 1:10 to go.
“We did a pretty good job killing the six on four for most of it. We just couldn’t get one more clear or one more bounce,” Cole said.
Suddenly with all the momentum, it did not take long for the Spartans to feel the similar effects they gave Michigan of a gut-wrenching loss.
30 seconds into three on three overtime, Alex Limoges, the Penn State leading goal scorer, beat Lewandowski to the net and tapped home a pass to give the Nittany Lions an exhilarating victory.
Drew DeRidder allowed three goals on 36 saves, but it was Autio’s strong play down the stretch that kept them in the game. The Spartans had multiple chances in the third to extend the lead to two, but they just could not get that dagger.
The Spartans will look to bounce back from the tough loss tomorrow afternoon for game two at 3 p.m.
Do you want the news without having to hunt for it?
Sign up for our morning s'newsletter. It's everything your friends are talking about and then some. And it's free!
Share and discuss “Final: PSU 3, MSU 2, Spartans blow late lead at Penn State” on social media.