EAST LANSING – For the second straight game, the Michigan State Spartans gave up a lead in the third period that cost them two full points in the Big Ten standings.
After giving up two goals in the last two minutes of play on Friday, MSU surrendered a goal midway through the third period Saturday that resulted in a second straight game ending in a tie.
And, just like on Friday, the Spartans (8-13-6, 2-5-5-3 B1G) lost in the shootout, as the game officially ended in a 2-2 tie with the Buckeyes picking up the extra point.
“I was curious to see tonight how we would respond after last night’s tie and shootout loss,” MSU head coach Tom Anastos said. “I thought we responded fairly well. I thought we were running out of gas later in the game. I think guys competed really hard.”
Senior forward Greg Wolfe scored twice in the game, but agreed when asked if the ties seemed to feel like losses considering the circumstances.
“Obviously we’re disappointed,” Wolfe said. “We had them down going into the third period both nights. I thought we battled hard all weekend. Not a great feeling, losing in two shootouts.”
Unlike Friday night, Ohio State (14-9-3, 4-5-3-2 B1G) struck first as Matt Johnson scored his first of two on the night with under four minutes to go in the opening period. Alex Lippincott blocked a shot and gained possession of the puck, carrying it into the MSU zone and found Johnson who skated in and slid the puck by Jake Hildebrand.
Other than the goal, Hildebrand stood on his head the first period, making 18 of his 48 total saves.
“It’s tough,” he said. “They’re a great team over there and we battled hard. We wanted to bounce back with a great effort and I thought we did that tonight.”
Later in the first, Wolfe scored his first of two on the power play, which was a bright spot for the Spartans despite struggling all year with the man advantage.
In the second, Wolfe converted on the power play again for the Spartans, this time off a one-timer from the blueline that rocketed past OSU goalie Christian Frey.
“I had some time with both of them and I was able to put my full body behind it,” Wolfe said. “I thought we were moving the puck really well and I think we’ve been doing a really good job moving the puck on the power play so it’s nice that the goals have started coming in.”
Ohio State’s offense began to take over in the third period, and they finally converted at the 8:59 mark. Johnson scored his second of the game in a play that was similar to his first, this time beating Hildebrand through the five-hole to tie the game at two.
The two teams traded chances in overtime but the best scoring chance came when MSU’s Michael Ferrantino, alone in front of the crease, redirected a pass into what would have been a wide open net, but Frey was there to slide across the crease and make the save with his glove.
Marysville native Nick Schilkey scored the shootout winner for the Buckeyes.
With the way each game in the weekend series ended, Anastos and his team know that even with the overall progress in their game, it’s the results on the scoreboard that matter in the end.
“We wanted to win six points this weekend, and we had a chance to win six points this weekend, but we came out with two,” Anastos said. “It is frustrating. We’ll deal with our frustration and figure out a way to move forward.”