Not that there was much doubt, but Daniel Lebedeff made sure to own up to it.
The University of Wisconsin men’s hockey goaltender showed an adventurous side with a two-goal lead late in the third period Friday, winding up for a shot at an empty net at the other end of the ice.
It almost turned into a comedy of errors, but the sophomore recovered to do what he did the rest of the night: keep the puck out of his net.
Lebedeff made 22 saves for his second collegiate shutout, and a resurgent power play gave the 15th-ranked Badgers a 3-0 victory over No. 4 Notre Dame at the Kohl Center.
Daniel Lebedeff made 22 saves for a shutout victory.
Cole Caufield and Roman Ahcan scored in the first two periods with the man advantage, giving UW as many power-play goals Friday as it had in the previous six games.
Lebedeff made the lead stand up to the point where he could feel comfortable making what nearly ended up becoming an ill-fated attempt at offense from the side of his crease.
“I admit it: I was going for it,” Lebedeff said.
He didn’t get enough lift on the puck, and it was blocked by oncoming Notre Dame forward Cam Morrison back into the air toward the goal. UW defenseman Tyler Inamoto missed on a swat at the puck with his glove, and Lebedeff also whiffed with his catching mitt, sending the puck to his feet.
No Fighting Irish player could get enough of a stick on it to get it past the sprawling goaltender, and he got a whistle.
“It was inches away,” Lebedeff said. “If it would have gone over the first guy, it would have been a goal. Kind of a bummer.”
Lebedeff wanted his teammates to return to the bench with a confession for the coaches: That was definitely a shot attempt and not a clearing try.
“I don’t think it was being selfish. I think the time was right for him to try something like that,” Badgers coach Tony Granato said. “Obviously, I would have loved it if he had gotten it a little higher.”
Granato added a quick summation of Lebedeff’s night: “He played outstanding.”
The Badgers (6-5, 1-2 Big Ten) put together a well-rounded performance in handing Notre Dame (7-1-1, 3-1-1) its first loss of the season and first defeat in seven games all-time at the Kohl Center (1-5-1).
Entering a series against No. 4 Notre Dame, one of the nation's best penalty-killing teams, the Badgers are 2-for-29 on the power play in their last six games.
The biggest key was the power-play conversions, a welcome sight to a talent-rich Badgers team that had gone 2-for-29 over the previous six games.
Both conversions, by Caufield in the first period and by Ahcan in the second, were on quick-moving plays against a Fighting Irish team that had allowed only one power-play goal in 24 tries this season.
Caufield scored his team-high ninth goal from the left side of the net after Notre Dame goaltender Cale Morris (32 saves) stopped K’Andre Miller’s shot from the top of the zone.
Caufield roofed the puck with so much force that it got stuck in the frame of the goal cage.
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A clean set of passes from Alex Turcotte to Dylan Holloway to Ahcan left Ahcan with a shot from the slot that beat Morris through the pads.
“They’re very aggressive, and we took that to our advantage tonight,” Caufield said. “Both of our goals tonight were from getting pucks closer to the net. I think we were too passive in our last couple of games.”
The recent slump moved the Badgers to alter power-play personnel. Holloway and Ahcan moved up to the top unit alongside Caufield, Miller and Turcotte. It produced a 2-for-2 result, the Badgers’ third game with multiple power-play goals this season and the first since Game 2.
Holloway, Ahcan and Miller all either scored or had a primary assist in new roles.
“We were struggling a little bit, so we tried a new look,” Ahcan said. “We emphasized getting on pucks when it’s in the corner, and that’s what happened.”
Ahcan has four goals in his last five games and, with five for the season, is one shy of his freshman-year total. He was involved all over the ice on Friday.
“He’s fearless,” Granato said. “He’s what a hockey player is supposed to be.”
Linus Weissbach scored an empty-net goal with 2:40 remaining, not long after Lebedeff’s adventure in puck-handling.
Lebedeff, who was pulled in the third period of a 5-2 loss at Omaha last Saturday, had one final obstacle between him and the shutout in the final 15 seconds.
Notre Dame’s Colin Theisen skated in on a breakaway but Lebedeff denied his attempt to beat him through the pads.
“It kind of came to me as a surprise, but I was still locked in,” Lebedeff said. “Play the game until it’s over. He clearly showed me he was going five-hole. It was clear as day, so it was kind of easy.”
Scoring isn’t as easy. Lebedeff’s career-long goal drought continued when his long-range try was blocked.
“I’m a playmaker more,” he joked.
Notre Dame 0 0 0 — 0
Wisconsin 1 1 1 — 3
First period: W — C. Caufield 9 (Miller, Turcotte), 17:10 (pp). Penalties: Hellickson, ND, 15:53; Stastney, ND, 18:45; Weissbach, W, 18:45.
Second period: W — Ahcan 5 (Holloway, Turcotte), 12:01 (pp). Penalties: Lansdell, ND, 11:33; Ahcan, W, 14:46.
Third period: W — Weissbach 2 (Lindmark, Miller), 17:20 (en). Penalties: Baker, W, 4:11; Crawford, ND, 4:11
Saves: ND (Morris 15-6-11) 32; W (Lebedeff 5-9-8) 22. Power plays: ND 0-for-1; W 2-for-2. Att. — 9,698.