EAST LANSING, Mich. — For their fourth straight game against the Spartans and their second in two nights, the RedHawks produced nothing but goose eggs.
Michigan State shutout Miami 2-0, giving the Spartans sole possession of first place in the CCHA with a 7-2-1 league record, 8-2-1 overall. Miami dropped to 4-3-1 in the league and 6-5-1 overall.
A second-period goal by freshman center Lee Falardeau and a third-period tally by junior winger Brian Maloney proved to be the difference, along with Ryan Miller’s second consecutive shutout and the 23rd of his career.
“I hope the people out there realize what they’re seeing in Ryan Miller,” MSU head coach Ron Mason said. “They’re seeing a phenom out there playing in net and from my perspective as a coach, I’ve never seen a goalie like him. He’s right in the zone at this point. He’s fun to watch and you better take advantage of it.”
As they did in last night’s game, the RedHawks took the play to the Spartans in the first period, outshooting them 10-6.
But also as they did last night, the RedHawks saw the Spartans score first when Falardeau put home his own rebound off a backhanded shot over fallen Miami netminder David Burleigh to make it 1-0 MSU at 8:07 of the second period.
“It didn’t really break the game open at all,” Falardeau said of his third goal of the year. “We had to keep playing how we were. We were playing solid defense and we knew those chances would come and we’d get there.”
MSU junior forward Brian Maloney made no mistake at 4:21 in the third period when, camped between the faceoff circles, he took a perfect pass from winger Steve Jackson and blasted a shot over Burleigh’s glove and into the net to make it 2-0 Spartans.
Despite desperate attempts and enjoying a six-on-four power play for the last 1:06 of the third period after Burleigh was pulled and Maloney was in the box for tripping, the RedHawks failed to beat Miller, extending their scoreless streak at Munn to 292:07.
Miller, who made 28 saves on the night, said such a streak is just a matter of taking opponents off their game.
“I think it’s because they come out flying at you and you really have to bear down against them,” he said. “A team like that, you’ve got to frustrate them.”
Contrary to appearances, Mason said the back-to-back shutouts were not easy.
“If you look at the score a lot of times, you see two shutouts, but we had to battle to score goals in this series,” he said. “When you battle to score sometimes you give a lot up and we gave up some odd-man rushes and turned the puck over trying to get some goals. That’s where Ryan Miller stepped in and made the saves.”
Miami, who fell to a fourth-place tie with Nebraska-Omaha in the CCHA after being swept on the weekend, will take next weekend off next week before having a home-and-home series with third-place Ohio State on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.
RedHawk head coach Enrico Blasi said with having to play six of their first eight games in the CCHA on the road, it will be good for the RedHawks to get some home cooking in the coming weeks.
“We’re in pretty good shape and we’re looking forward to getting home and playing some home games,” he said. “It’s tough to play on the road in this league, as we know. We’ll just keep playing hard and you want to be playing your best hockey in March, and that’s our goal.”
The Spartans will next play host to Wisconsin on Friday and No. 1 ranked Minnesota on Sunday as part of the College Hockey Showcase.