Nov. 25, 2011
East Lansing, Mich. - Michigan State rode a 40-save performance from senior netminder Drew Palmisano and got a pair of goals from junior Kevin Walrod as the No. 20 Spartans knocked off No. 2/3 Minnesota on Friday night at Munn Ice Arena. The Spartans, now 8-5-0 overall and winners of six of their last seven games, have rebounded from a 1-3-0 start to go 7-2-0 since Oct. 20. Nick Bjugstad, the nation's leading scorer, had two of Minnesota's (11-4-0) three goals on the night.
"Obviously, we were quite pleased with the outcome," said head coach Tom Anastos. "I thought our guys did a real nice job of sticking with the game plan and executing. That is a really talented team that we played tonight, and I was pleased to see that we played with a purpose and with poise. It was a hard-fought and well-earned victory. I'm sure that we are going to see them come back really hard tomorrow night."
The series - the first two-game regular-season set between the teams since 1981 - is a two-game set both this year and next, and the two teams will begin to meet four times annually in the fall of 2013. Over the last 17 seasons, the two teams have met nearly exclusively in the now-defunct College Hockey Showcase, which pitted Minnesota and Wisconsin against the Spartans and Michigan.
The Spartans popped in the game's first goal on the power play at 8;12. MSU was moving the puck well, and Brett Perlini had a great chance at the far post that went just high. After the Spartans regrouped, Perlini fed Kevin Walrod from his spot on the half wall, as Walrod walked in from the corner. He flipped the puck over the left leg pad of Patterson and into the back of the net for his fourth goal of the season.
MSU extended its lead at 12:25. Off a faceoff in the right circle, Brent Darnell's shot was blocked by a defender, but corralled by Dean Chelios. Chelios was able to get it over to Darnell on the left side, and he backhanded it past Patterson.
The Gophers tied the game with a pair of goals within a minute. Seth Helgelson had the first tally, taking a pass from Jake Hansen in the left corner, and burying a slapshot from the right hash mark. Leading scorer Nick Bjugstad carried the puck from the right corner up to the half wall, out into the right circle with a defender on his hip, and backhanded the puck beneath the glove hand of Palmisano for his nation's-best 14th goal of the season.
Just under two minutes later, Matt Berry extended MSU's lead to 4-2 with a wrist shot from the right circle that appeared to hit Patterson's stick and knuckle over his glove-hand.
Just over the 10 minute mark into the third period, the teams each hit the post on consecutive possessions - Anthony Hayes rang the crossbar, and on the Gopher's trip down to the other end, Kyle Rau hit the left post with a sharp-angle shot from the left circle. Bjugstad came up with his second goal of the night to cut the Spartan lead to 4-3 at 13:02.
Palmisano came up with a huge, clutch save in the waning seconds, as Minnesota had Patterson on the bench in favor of an extra skater. The senior finished with 40 saves, a season best.
The teams will play again on Saturday in a 7 p.m. game at Munn Ice Arena.
NOTES: Michigan State has gone 3-0 over top-5 teams in the national poll over the last three weeks, and are 4-2-0 in games against ranked teams overall this season ... Minnesota's 17 shots in the first period was the most by an opponent in the opening frame this season. The previous high was 15 by Robert Morris on Oct. 28 ... Kevin Walrod scored his fourth goal of the season in the first period, the first time in his career he's had more than three markers. He added a shorthanded tally in the third period. Of Walrod's eight career goals, six have come in games where he has had two-goal efforts ... Brent Darnell's first period goal was his first collegiate tally ... Matt Berry has scored in consecutive games for the first time in his career ... Drew Palmisano's 40 saves were a season-best and six shy of his career best of 46.