East Lansing, Mich. – Michigan State scored three power-play goals to beat the Gophers 5-3 on Saturday afternoon in the opener of their Big Ten series. The Gophers (9-9-4, 6-4-3 Big Ten) had won three in a row, their longest winning streak of the season.
But special teams decided this game. The Spartans were 3-for-4 on the power play, the Gophers 1-for-6.
"I didn't like our demeanor from the start of the game," Gophers coach Bob Motzko said. "We scored first, and it actually hurt us — you don't say that too often — then we got even lower.
"And we were fearful of that coming into the game. You get a half-empty building — it is easy to say it is no excuse, coach. We had these things coming off last week. Very emotional [sweep of then-No. 9 Notre Dame]. Back on the road."
The announced attendance was 5,784.
Mitch Lewandowski, who had two goals, and Patrick Khodorenko both scored with the man advantage in a span of just over two minutes left late in the opening period to put MSU (8-12-3, 4-7-2-1) ahead 2-1. Lewandowski's second goal, at even strength at 15 minutes of the second, made it 3-1. And Cody Milan, on another power play, made it 4-1 Spartans midway through the third.
The Gophers tried to rally in the last eight minutes, scoring twice to close within 4-3. Brannon McManus had a power-play goal at 12:45 and Rem Pitlick an unassisted goal at 15:37.
Jerad Rosburg scored an empty-net goal for Michigan State with 12 seconds left for the final margin. Taro Hirose had three assists for MSU, pushing his season total to a Division I-leading 27.
Goalies Mat Robson of the Gophers had 37 saves and John Lethemon of the Spartans 35.
"It was a learning — I hate it. We've dug ourselves such a hole," Motzko said. "We don't need any more learning lessons. But this was another lesson for our team."
And the second loss in a row to the Spartans after going 8-0-1 against them.