The Gophers showed a flair for the dramatic on Friday, rallying from a two-goal deficit to defeat Michigan on the road. They couldn't come away with another victory Saturday, but coach Bob Motzko wasn't glum.
Motzko said their 2-2 tie against the Wolverines was "maybe our best game'' of the season, citing their grit and persistence in the series finale at Yost Ice Arena. The No. 6 Gophers (5-3-2, 1-2-1 Big Ten) twice pushed back from one-goal deficits to tie the score, with goals from Brody Lamb and Jimmy Snuggerud. Goaltender Justen Close finished with a season-high 37 saves.
Eighth-ranked Michigan (5-5-2, 1-3-2) won the shootout — and earned an extra Big Ten point — when Seamus Casey netted the only goal.
Michigan scored first, getting the opener from Nick Moldenhauer at 13 minutes, 40 seconds of the first period. Lamb brought the Gophers even on a power-play goal at 17:58 of the second, but the Wolverines moved ahead 2-1 with only 11 seconds remaining in the period on Frank Nazar's power-play strike.
Snuggerud tied it again at 15:34 of the third, sending the game to three-on-three overtime, followed by the shootout. Lamb finished the weekend with two goals and two assists.
The tie pushed the Gophers' unbeaten streak to four games (2-0-2).
"Our guys battled,'' Motzko said on a postgame radio broadcast. "We just kept coming. I'm proud of our guys. They worked their tails off.
"This was a hard-fought weekend for us. It's something we can grow on.''
The Gophers faced a hyped-up atmosphere at Yost, where they have lost only once in their past 12 visits. A crowd announced at 5,800 hit a fever pitch when a celebrity walked in. Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh — banned from the sidelines for Saturday's victory at Penn State after alleged sign-stealing by his program — showed up at the hockey game, prompting a chant of "Free Jim Harbaugh!''
Moldenhauer delighted them, too, giving the Wolverines an early lead. The Gophers were outshot 14-9 in the first period and struggled early in the second, managing only one shot on goal during their first power-play opportunity.
But they dug in, wresting control of the game and dominating the final 10 minutes of the period. The Gophers outshot Michigan 20-11 in the middle frame, keeping steady pressure on goaltender Jake Barczewski. They finished a well-executed power play with Lamb's goal from the high slot, tying the score 1-1.
That lasted less than two minutes. Gophers defenseman Ryan Chesley was penalized for high sticking with 52 seconds left in the period, putting Michigan's top-ranked power play on the ice. Nazar's goal from the left circle restored the Wolverines' lead heading into the final period.
Though the Gophers sputtered early in the third, Close turned away six Michigan shots as his teammates regained their rhythm. Snuggerud, who said before the series that the Gophers needed to establish better net-front presence, followed through. He held his position in front of Barczewski and slid in the rebound of a Sam Rinzel shot, tying the score 2-2.
Motzko tapped Snuggerud, Cal Thomas and Bryce Brodzinski for the shootout, but none was successful.
Both teams finished with 39 shots on goal, and both went 1-for-2 on the power play.
The Star Tribune did not send the writer of this article to the game. This was written using a broadcast, interviews and other material.