Nov. 28, 2008
Madison, Wis. - Jeff Lerg's season-high 50 saves were not enough for Michigan State on Friday evening, as it fell at Wisconsin, 3-1, to see its winless streak reach eight games (0-7-1). Michigan State's scoring woes and offensive struggles continued, as it posted just 12 shots on goal in the game and had problems generating offense in the Wisconsin zone. Wisconsin scored twice in the final period, netting an insurance tally with just under three minutes remaining after MSU had cut the lead to 2-1.
Both teams took penalties early, sending their power plays into the game for some early work. The Spartans took a pair of penalties in the opening 5:30, and winger Tom Gorowsky had the Badgers' two best early chances on the man advantage. Back-to-back whistles against the Spartans - Jay Sprague for hooking and a tripping call against Daultan Leveille - put the Badgers on a five-on-three for 1:17; MSU killed off the five-on three, then had the five-on-four abbreviated when Wisconsin's Jordy Murray was called for a hold.
Wisconsin held an 18-3 edge in shots in the opening frame, the most shots surrendered by MSU in the first period this season. The bright spot for the Spartans - as he's been all season - was the play of senior netminder Lerg. Lerg made a pair of saves on a two-on-one break just over 13 minutes into the game, and made an improbable diving save on Gorowsky midway through the second period that kept the Badgers off the board. He also got a little help from the goalpost at the 11-minute mark of the second, when Aaron Bendickson's screened shot ricocheted off the iron to the goaltender's left.
The Badgers finally solved Lerg at 16:42 of the second period. Ben Grotting fired a slapshot over the shoulder of the netminder after he corralled a rebound in the right circle. It was the junior's first score of the season.
The home team potted its second of the night on a two-on-one break at the 7:25 mark of the final period. John Mitchell took the pass from Matt Thurber and lifted the puck over a diving Ryan Turek and the blocker-hand of Lerg for some insurance for the Badgers.
The Spartans had a five-on-three with 6:32 remaining, and took just 15 seconds to put its first score of the night on the board. Jeff Petry held the puck low at the left point, and went across the slot to Matt Schepke at the right post. Schepke's pass was intended for Corey Tropp at the top of the crease, but slid to the far left to Tim Crowder, who potted the extra-man tally to cut the Badger lead to one.
MSU's hope at a comeback ended at 17:05, when Wisconsin took a 3-1 lead. Ben Mitchell's pass from the goal line on the right side went into the low slot for Thurber, who potted his second of the night.
Michigan State continues play in the College Hockey Showcase on Saturday when it takes on top-ranked Minnesota in Minneapolis. Gametime is 8:05 p.m. EST, and the game will be shown live on the Big Ten Network.
NOTES: Michigan State allowed 18 first-period shots, the most surrendered in the opening frame this season. It tied Jeff Lerg's career record for saves in a period, tied last on Feb. 10, 2007, against Michigan ... The Spartans allowed a season-high nine power-play chances against, bettering the eight in the Nov. 15 game against Miami. The Spartans allowed three man-advantage goals that evening but held the Badgers without a PPG ... MSU's power play went 1-for-6, netting power-play goals in back-to-back games for the first time since the opening weekend ... MSU managed a single goal for the sixth straight game, and has scored eight goals in its last eight games combined.