College Hockey:
Michigan State blanks Ohio State

— After taking a two-goal lead into the third period and losing 4-3 in overtime Friday, Michigan State rebounded with a 4-0 shutout to split the weekend series against visiting Ohio State.

MSU captain Torey Krug, who scored his second goal of the season at 9:00 in the first period, said that tonight’s game was a more consistent effort from the Spartans.

“We took everything that happened last night to heart, kind of to send a message. Obviously, we’re great in the first two periods; [we] just kind of come down in the third period. You’ve got to play with a sense of urgency and not let them develop any sense of urgency.”

Three different MSU players scored.  Brett Perlini had the game-winner at 3:06 in the first, as well as the empty-net goal at the end, and Jake Chelios scored the third goal of the night on the power play at 13:44 in the first. Drew Palmisano made 22 saves in his third career shutout, his first of the season.

Rick Comley, MSU head coach, said that there was one overwhelming positive to come from this win: “The fact that we came back after a tough loss and just kept playing.”

The victory broke a three-game losing streak for a young Spartans team that has had difficulty playing with a lead.

“We play pretty hard, but sometimes we’re sloppy with the puck and that hurts us,” said Comley. “When we stay within the box, then we play pretty well. When we try to get a little too fancy, with our development, we pay for it.”

OSU coach Mark Osiecki said that his Buckeyes were ready to continue where they left off last night, but undermined their own success.

“We came out with energy and jump. We were ready on faceoffs. Our guys prepared themselves.

“Three mistakes cost us. First shot on net went in, second one a little bit of a breakdown, and then a breakdown on the penalty kill situation. So all of a sudden we’re down three-zip…and now you’ve got to battle back against a team that plays pretty well defensively. Rick does a good job of getting those guys to shut things down. It was very difficult for us to get anything offensively generated.”

Perlini’s first goal of the night, his seventh of the season, came early in the first after a turnover in the neutral zone. The Spartans had pressured around the Buckeyes net but OSU cleared. Krug intercepted in the neutral zone and passed to Daultan Leveille, who fed Perlini. Perlini walked in and sent an innocent-looking shot at the OSU net, and the puck fluttered up and over Cal Heeter’s shoulder to make it 1-0.

Krug scored his goal at the 9:00 mark on an OSU line change, taking a pass from Tim Buttery and flying in to one-time it from the bottom of the left circle, giving the Spartans a 2-0 lead.

Chelios’ power-play goal was also from a Grant rebound, an easy goal on an essentially empty net.  Heeter was drawn right to defend against Grant’s initial shot but did not move with the rebound, which went right to Chelios at 13:44.

Grant finished with three assists on the night, having tipped the puck to Perlini for the empty-net goal.

According to Comley, the win couldn’t have come at a better time for the Spartans (4-3-3, 2-3-1-0 CCHA), who play five games in the next two weeks, beginning with a road series against Notre Dame.

“You lose this game, you’ve lost four in a row,” said Comley. “You’re fighting uphill. You’ve got to keep plugging, get points when you can because we have a stretch of games here that’s really tough.”

Next weekend, the Spartans travel to South Bend to face league-leading Notre Dame, while Ohio State (5-6-0, 2-4-0-0 CCHA) hosts Alaska for two.

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