EAST LANSING, Mich. — The University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team has been on both sides of a shootout decision this season, but not in the circumstances it faced Saturday.
The Badgers outshot Michigan State 54-31 for the game, had the Spartans on the run in the second period and yet couldn’t secure a regulation win.
It was not hard to imagine the empty feeling that UW would have taken home to Madison if Max Zimmer hadn’t rescued the extra Big Ten Conference point with a shootout goal following a 2-2 tie at Munn Ice Arena.
“It makes a world of a difference,” Zimmer said with music pouring out of the Badgers’ locker room. “To finish with a win and get two out of three points definitely helps us going into the next week.”
UW led twice through Will Johnson and Linus Weissbach goals and dominated statistically with 62 percent of the game’s shot attempts. But the Badgers never were able to shake the Spartans and their big-time players.
Taro Hirose scored in the first minute of the second period and Mitchell Lewandowski forged the 2-2 tie with a power-play strike 37 seconds into the third for Michigan State (10-13-4, 6-8-4-2 Big Ten).
In between, however, the Badgers (9-12-5, 5-6-5-2) had their most prolific period in terms of shots on goal in more than five years. Of 23 shots that reached Michigan State’s Drew DeRidder in the second, only one got past, a Weissbach rebound score midway through the session.
Badgers coach Tony Granato said his team didn’t get breaks around the net that could have opened up a bigger lead.
“The bottom line is we played a great game,” he said. “We deserved three points; we got two. ... The guys played their hearts out.”
The 23 shots on goal in the middle frame tied the Badgers’ most for a period since getting 25 in the first period against Alabama Huntsville on Dec. 27, 2013.
At 54, the Badgers set a high for shots in a game in three seasons under Granato. It was the highest total for the team since it recorded 56 in a 5-1 victory over Arizona State on Oct. 30, 2015.
“Not the way we want to play,” Spartans coach Danton Cole said. “They were doing a good job of pressuring and putting pucks on net from all over.”
The failure to score more than one goal was costly when Lewandowski cashed in on Michigan State’s first shot of the third period.
UW’s Roman Ahcan hesitated in getting back from the Michigan State zone after a short-handed rush, and that opened a lane for a Patrick Khodorenko cross-ice feed setting up Lewandowski’s one-timer.
“The legs were a little tired, and they made a nice play across the box,” Ahcan said. “They went through three sticks, so props to them for that one.”
Lewandowski’s goal gave Badgers opponents at least one power-play goal in a season-high six consecutive games.
After the Spartans’ vaunted top line of Hirose, Khodorenko and Lewandowski combined for all four goals in a 4-1 victory on Friday, UW held the trio without a shot on goal for the first 19½ minutes Saturday.
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Even though members of the “KHL Line” scored twice on Saturday, the Badgers did a better job of making them play in their own end of the ice.
“I thought our (defense) was outstanding,” Granato said. “They ended plays early for us.”
That paid off 3:29 into the game when Johnson drove into the zone and snapped a shot past DeRidder (52 saves) from the right circle for a 1-0 lead.
The Spartans’ top line needed only 55 seconds of the second period and a misplay by Jack Berry behind the Badgers’ net to draw even. The goalie tried to pass the puck to a teammate but misfired.
Lewandowski intercepted the puck in the corner and fed Hirose in front for a quick shot that beat Berry (29 saves) high.
After the teams were scoreless through the 5-on-5 and 3-on-3 overtimes, Berry stopped Hirose’s try to open the sudden-death shootout.
Zimmer fired through DeRidder’s pads to clinch an extra point for the second time this season. He also won a shootout at Michigan on Nov. 24.
“We were outshooting them. We were outplaying them, I felt like,” said senior right wing Matthew Freytag, who led the Badgers with six shots on goal. “You wish you’d get the three points, but to come out with a couple is nice, especially bouncing back after yesterday. I was proud of the way the guys worked tonight.”
Wisconsin 1 1 0 0 — 2
Michigan State 0 1 1 0 — 2
First period: W — Johnson 8 (Tischke), 3:29. Penalties: Gorniak, W, 6:34; Ch. Krygier, M, 9:14.
Second period: M — Hirose 15 (Lewandowski), :55. W — Weissbach 4 (Miller, Emberson), 9:36. Penalties: Rosburg, M, 3:35; Milan, M, 11:07; Saliba, M, 11:07; Miller, W, 11:07; Emberson, W, 11:07; Goodsir, M, 13:20; Inamoto, W, 19:05.
Third period: M — Lewandowski 13 (Khodorenko), :37 (pp). Penalties: Weissbach, W, 12:07; Milan, M, 13:19; Tischke, W, 16:07.
Overtime: No scoring or penalties.
3-on-3 overtime: No scoring or penalties.
Shootout: W 1 (Zimmer G), M 0 (Hirose NG).
Saves: W (Berry 8-3-12-6) 29; M (DeRidder 15-22-14-1) 52. Power plays: W 0-for-4; M 1-for-4. Att. — 5,289.