An explosive four-goal second period for No. 18 Penn State was enough to force a third game in the opening round of the Big Ten tournament as the Nittany Lions routed the Wisconsin men's hockey team, 6-2, Saturday evening at Pegula Ice Arena.
Wisconsin opened the scoring in the second game of its best-of-three series against the Nittany Lions thanks to a goal from sophomore Linus Weissbach, but Penn State rallied to even the score midway through the first period.
Despite heading into the middle frame tied 1-1, the Nittany Lions scored four unanswered goals to take a commanding 5-1 lead over the Badgers.
Senior forward Matthew Freytag snapped Penn State's scoring streak eight minutes into the final period of regulation to make it a 5-2 game, but the Badgers' deficit was too much to overcome.
Nittany Lions forward Alex Limoges added another goal late in the third period to close out a 6-2 loss for the Badgers.
Freshman goaltender Daniel Lebedeff stopped 34 shots between the pipes for UW, and junior netminder Jack Berry made 11 saves in the relief effort.
Notes to Know:
• Senior forward Matthew Freytag and sophomore winger Linus Weissbach have combined for 14 points in the last seven games for the Badgers. Both skaters tallied goals in Saturday's loss.
Up Next: The Badgers square off against the Nittany Lions Sunday at Pegula Ice Arena to decide who moves on to the single-elimination semifinal round at Ohio State. Puck drop is scheduled for 5 p.m. (CT).
Straight from the Rink
Head Coach Tony Granato
On the game:
"They came out flying, as we knew they would. This is desperation for them. Their season's over if they don't win. They were more desperate, more urgent, more committed and just had better jump than us to start. Give them credit. We got that lead and we had a little bit of an opportunity, at least, to stay in the game, but they had better jump than us tonight. We couldn't keep up with them for most of the game. We got a little bit going in the third period, but the game was over by then."
On moving forward:
"We don't have a choice. We either show up and play well tomorrow or our season's over. From that standpoint, I think both teams are in the same situation. Like I said, they were more desperate, so we're going to have to play that way tomorrow. We're going to need more energy, more jump. They did a great job on their forecheck, especially early in the game. They had us in our own end and making us play in the D zone. That wears your group down, and they did a really good job of that."
Senior forward Seamus Malone
On Saturday's result:
"We've just got to keep our heads up no matter which the game's going, no matter which way the calls are going. We just have to stick to our game plan, and that's something we'll correct tomorrow. It's do-or-die now. It's everything or nothing."
On what wasn't working:
"Obviously we scored the first goal, but those 50-50 puck battles, those races, we just weren't quite where we needed to be to win those. It was all of us. It was apparent that they wanted it more tonight and we didn't. Maybe we thought it was going to be easy, but obviously it's not. Their season was on the line tonight, but now both our seasons are on the line, so it's going to be a fun one tomorrow.
"Looking back on it, we've had a lot of good after some mishaps, like the last time we were here. We just have to bounce back and we've done it before and we have to do it again. Now it's a step up. It's a little more important obviously. We have the chance to do it and I think we have a great group and I think we will do it."