DETROIT — It wasn’t a tie, but the CCHA standings remain the same.
After two straight ties, Michigan State defeated Michigan, 3-1, in front of 20,058 fans at Joe Louis Arena on Saturday night in a nonconference game. The two teams still remain tied atop the CCHA conference with 34 points apiece.
Spartans goalie Ryan Miller did not allow Michigan to get back into the game in a performance that was nearly flawless.
Michigan (18-9-5, 15-5-4 CCHA) outshot the Spartans (21-6-5, 15-5-4), 28-21, as it did for most of the three games, but Miller stopped 27 shots, several in acrobatic fashion.
Michigan goaltender Josh Blackburn didn’t fare as well, stopping 18 shots.
“We make lots of mistakes and Ryan Miller makes great saves,” Michigan State coach Ron Mason said.
The teams combined for three goals in the first five minutes.
Michigan State left-winger Joe Goodenow, who had just eight goals on the season, scored a minute-and-a-half into the game to give the Spartans a 1-0 lead.
The Wolverines responded almost immediately. Two-and-a half minutes later, freshman walk-on Charlie Henderson scored a fluke goal to tie the game at one. The puck hit Miller, popped into the air and then avoided the stick of defenseman Duncan Keith just before it crossed the goal line. The tally was Michigan’s first shot on goal.
A minute after Henderson’s goal, lightning struck twice for Goodenow. He flipped the puck toward the Michigan goal with plenty of room between him and Blackburn. Blackburn did not get in front of the bouncing puck and missed it with his glove. The goal gave Michigan State a 2-1 advantage.
The Spartans appeared to take a 3-1 lead with 4:14 remaining in the second period after Steve Jackson beat Blackburn, but the goal was called back for a holding penalty on Lee Falardeau.
MSU did not have many other chances to score in the period, as the Wolverines outshot them 11-3.
But, just like the first two games against the Spartans, Michigan didn’t bury their chances.
Michigan’s J.J. Swistak missed a 1-on-1 opportunity with Miller and John Shouneyia missed the goal completely on two separate occasions despite being wide open.
Michigan State currently holds a six-game unbeaten streak dating back to Jan. 27 of last year, but the Wolverines think they should have possession of that streak.
“I thought we were the better team in all three games [this season],” forward Eric Nystrom said.
Michigan State right-winger Mike Lalonde scored his second goal against Michigan to give the Spartans a 3-1 lead with 9:41 remaining. Lalonde set up his own shot, passing the puck to himself around Michigan’s Mike Roemensky.
Although the win didn’t give the Spartans sole possession of first place, Michigan State coach Ron Mason has had much more frustrating experiences against the Wolverines in his 36 years of coaching.
“I know one time (1997-98) we beat them four straight times and they won the National Championship — that’s frustrating,” Mason said.
This could be the final game between Mason and Michigan coach Red Berenson, barring a meeting in the CCHA playoffs or the NCAA Tournament. Mason, who will step down at the end of the season, currently holds a 42-29-7 edge over Berenson.
Notes: The loss ended Michigan’s winning steak at five games. … Despite the loss, the Wolverines extended their penalty-kill streak to 58. … Before the game, Berenson presented Ron Mason with a declaration from the University of Michigan and a gift certificate to one of Mason’s favorite restaurants in East Lansing.