EAST LANSING, Mich. — With the score tied and a minute to go in regulation, this one looked to be heading to overtime — but Ohio State’s Patrick Schafer had other plans.
Taking the puck from teammate C.J. Severyn behind the Michigan State net and wrapping the puck around to the left post, Schafer forced a goal between the legs of Spartans’ netminder Drew Palmisano at 18:57 to break a 2-2 deadlock.
Sergio Somma added the empty-net goal at 19:13, and Ohio State beat MSU 4-2 to earn a road split against the ranked Spartans.
“They were the ones that were trying to press a little bit; they were at home,” said OSU coach John Markell. “We just had to try to play a good road game and make them try to come 200 feet, own the blue lines, get it back in the slot and protect your goaltender.”
The game went back and forth for the first 50 minutes, but the Buckeyes outshot the Spartans 47-19. In the third period, OSU outgunned MSU 18-4, pressure that led to the game-winner.
“These games come along,” said MSU coach Rick Comley. “We were okay, but we didn’t generate much. I give credit to Ohio State and their work ethic.”
There was a lot of scoring done early in each period in the game tonight, and much battling afterward. Nick Sucharski gave MSU a 1-0 lead after one with his power-play tally at 5:43 in the first, tipping in Corey Tropp’s cross-crease pass to score behind OSU goaltender Dustin Carlson.
The Buckeyes answered with a power-play goal of their own at 3:14 in the second, nine seconds after Tropp went to the penalty box for hooking. Shane Sims had his third of the season with a clean shot from the top of the slot and the game was tied 1-1 after two.
OSU’s Zac Dalpe broke that tie just 37 seconds into the third on another power play, rifling a shot toward Palmisano that bounced in off of MSU defenseman Jeff Petry’s foot. At 10:01, the Spartans tied the game again when Dustin Gazley, trailing on the crash, picked up Daultan Leveille’s rebound.
That the game didn’t end as the Spartans expected is an understatement.
“Especially with the way it happened,” said Petry. “To come back and tie and to get outworked down low and have a wraparound goal is just devastating. I thought coming back to tie it like we did, we deserved to get some points, but they worked hard and were fortunate to get one.”
Even Schafer, who scored that game-winner at 18:37, didn’t expect the play to work the way it did.
“‘Sevy’ did a good job working with me down in the corner,” said Schafer. “I felt a little gap and I heard him back door, so I just stepped out and tried to stuff it, hoped to get it in with the rebound, and luckily it went in for us.”
Schafer’s game-winner was his second goal of the season and cemented a win that was only the second road victory for OSU on the year. Who netted that first road game-winner? Schafer, at 18:19 in the second period of Ohio State’s 4-3 win over Lake Superior State Oct. 24 in Sault Ste. Marie.
Comley said that Palmisano, who stopped 43 in the loss, played great.
“He was kind of unlucky on the last one. He was there. We just got outworked at the goal line. Sometimes those wraps go in and most times they don’t.”
Carlson finished the nights with 17 saves for his second win of the season.
“It’s nice to see Dusty come in and get a win,” said Markell. “He’s been working hard and probably deserved a win a long time ago. He persevered, got some timely specialty team play done, and you end up with a win.”
The Buckeyes finished two-for-eight on the power play, the Spartans one-for-seven.
“They worked hard and played really well and obviously had a lot more jump than we did,” said Comley. “We took too many silly penalties.”
Next up for Ohio State (10-13-1, 8-9-1 CCHA) is a two-game homestand against Ferris State Jan. 29-30. The Spartans (16-8-4, 11-5-4 CCHA) host Michigan Jan. 29 and play the Wolverines in Joe Louis Arena the following night.