ANN ARBOR, Mich. — No. 1 Michigan had its opportunities against visiting Michigan State, but it was the sixth-ranked Spartans who made their chances count.
Outshot 31-13 by the unbeaten Wolverines, Michigan State used the flawless play of netminder Ryan Miller to hold Michigan scoreless and win 1-0.
“Miller played a great game,” Michigan State coach Ron Mason said. “He made some key saves and didn’t give up rebounds and that’s the kind of goalie he is.”
The shutout win was the first for the Spartans against their intrastate rivals since 1988.
The game’s only score came with three minutes left in the first period as Spartans forward Rustyn Dolyny fired a shot that beat Michigan goaltender Josh Blackburn and found the right corner of the net.
Dolyny’s goal, his fourth of the year, came on a power play after Michigan’s Andy Burns had been called for holding. Positioned between the circles to Blackburn’s right, Dolyny took a feed from John-Michael Liles before blasting the game winner in front of a standing-room-only crowd of 6,521.
Blackburn kept the Spartans off the board for the reminder of the game, but the Michigan offense couldn’t manage more than a few close chances through the second and third periods. Nevertheless, Michigan coach Red Berenson found little fault in his squad considering the superb play of Miller.
“I can’t ask any more of my team,” Berenson said. “I thought we played as well as we can play. It was one of those nights when the puck wasn’t going in. I can name a half-dozen point-blank chances that didn’t go in. But I like the way our team played and obviously Michigan State got what they needed to play on the road, they got a goalie and they got their power play goal that held up for the game.”
Miller, already the CCHA leader in both goals against average (1.81) and save percentage (.935), saw his numbers improve with his 31-save performance. Conference-leading Michigan saw its first setback this season.
Despite taking only 13 shots, Mason said his team’s objectives were to force Michigan to take low-percentage scoring chances while capitalizing on their own opportunities to score.
“We could’ve had more shots if we would’ve taken them,” Mason said. “That wasn’t our goal, to generate a lot of shots. In the third period the shots we pretty even and that’s where it really counts.”