Once again, the Minnesota Golden Gophers found themselves in a hole early against the Michigan State Spartans on Friday, and their comeback efforts fell short as Sparty held on to win by a final score of 4-3.
Michigan State got themselves off to an early 2-0 lead, getting a power play goal from Brent Walrod a little more than eight minutes in to start the scoring and following that up with a goal from Brent Darnell four minutes after. The Gophers came back to tie it up, courtesy of even-strength goals from Seth Helgeson and Nick Bjugstad to even the score at two after one period of play.
The two teams played a scoreless second period, but Michigan State got the early advantage in the third, with Walrod notching a short-handed tally three minutes into the frame to give the Spartans back the lead, 3-2. It was the first short-handed goal allowed by the Gophers this season, and the first they had allowed in the regular season since October 22, 2010 against St. Cloud State. Less than two minutes later, Matt Berry scored for Michigan State, and the lead was back to two goals at 4-2.
Bjugstad scored again at the thirteen minute mark of the period, cutting the deficit to 4-3, but the Gophers would get no closer, as Michigan State goaltender Drew Palmisano kept the Gophers off the scoreboard for the final seven minutes of play.
Palmisano, Walrod, and Bjugstad were named the three stars of the game. Minnesota outshot Michigan State in this one by a total of 40-19, but that wasn't enough to get the victory on Friday night.
The two teams will meet again in East Lansing on Saturday night, with the puck dropping at 6:00 PM Central time. You can either watch the game on Fox Sports North, or get the radio call on ESPN 1500.