SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The fifth-ranked Wisconsin Badgers got goals from Robbie Earl and Ryan MacMurchy and goaltender Brian Elliott stopped all 19 shots he faced to record his third shutout of the season as Wisconsin handed Notre Dame its fifth straight loss, this time by a 2-0 score at the Joyce Center.
The Irish, who have struggled all season to score goals, were blanked for the third time this season and have now scored nine goals in eight games during the month of January.
The loss drops Notre Dame to 5-15-5 on the year while Wisconsin improves to 18-6-1.
The Irish turned in a strong first period and had several good scoring chances on four power plays but failed to score while getting six of their eight shots in the period with the man advantage.
“That was the game tonight in the first period on those power plays,” said Irish coach Dave Poulin. “We have to play with the lead, but every one is pressing and no one wants to take the shot. They are getting more and more reluctant to shoot, but you have to keep shooting to score.”
The Badgers finally broke through at 5:30 of the second period as leading scorer Robbie Earl scored on a breakaway that came off what appeared to be a missed penalty call against Wisconsin.
With the play in the Badgers zone and the Irish controlling the puck, defenseman Luke Lucyk pinched in along the left boards and was drilled on a high hit by a Wisconsin defender. Earl scooped up the puck and raced down the right wing boards and snapped a shot past Morgan Cey that went broke off his glove and into the net.
Again, the Irish had four power-play chances in the period, including two of the five-on-three variety, but could not dent Elliot in the Wisconsin goal.
“We moved the puck well on the five-on-three’s and got the setup we wanted,” said Poulin. “Noah Babin had some good shots but missed the net with them.”
In the third period, the Badgers got the insurance goal at 5:30 of the period as Ryan MacMurchy scored his 10th of the season on a shot from the point that deflected off his skate in front past Cey for the final score of 2-0.
Cey finished the night with 27 saves and has now given up 16 goals in seven games played this month. Elliot, who saw just three shots in the final period, finished with 19 saves in the game and the Badgers out shot the Irish by a 29-19 margin.
Notre Dame was 0-for-10 on the power play and held the Badgers’ second-ranked power play off the board in five chances.
“I thought that we did a good job of holding them in check tonight,” said Poulin. “They have a very good power play and we did a good job of shutting it down. We just have to keep going. The best way to get back on track is to simplify things, skate hard every shift ad play physical and we did a good job of that tonight. Sooner or later it’s going to happen.”
The two teams close out the non-conference weekend series on Saturday, Jan. 22 when they meet at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill. Game time is set for 7:05 p.m. (CST).