MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota scored on the first shift of the game Sunday and then held on for the remaining 59:48 to topple Canisius 1-0 at Mariucci Arena.
Just 12 seconds into the game, Kyle Rau tipped a wrist shot by Jake Parenteau from the top of the left circle past Canisius goalie Tony Capobianco.
Nick Bjugstad earned a second assist on the goal after battling for the puck in the corner, feeding Parenteau from the behind the net on the right side.
“It’s not the ideal way to start off a game, 10 seconds in to have a goal against, but I think we rebounded nicely,” remarked Capobianco.
“When you look at what they have done this year and how well their goaltenders played all season long, they’re going to keep four guys back,” said Minnesota coach Don Lucia. “They were not going to give up easy goals. We had some good looks, some rebounds. We just could not get that second goal to create separation.”
Gophers’ goalie Adam Wilcox earned the shutout with a 20-save outing.
“I liked the way Adam responded to not the easiest game to play because you are not seeing a lot of pucks and all of a sudden, you might see a pretty good chance,” added Lucia.
“It’s easy to lose focus in these games, but you have to be there for your team because they are battling down low, they are facing a hot goalie,” Wilcox said. “They’re getting 30-40 shots. It’s easy to lose focus.”
The Griffins nearly tied the game with 25 seconds left when Tyler Wiseman was stopped at the goal mouth by Wilcox. With 15 seconds left Canisius was called for a hand pass in the offensive zone, resulting in a defensive-zone faceoff. The Griffins did not get another quality shot.
“I lost it in front of the net,” explained Wilcox. “I kind of saw it out of the corner of my eye back door and I stuck a leg out there. It’s good that it [the puck] hit it.”
“I feel like our guys kind of limited their second-chance opportunities,” Capobianco said. “I was getting the first save. When I did not get good rebounds, our guys were right there to clear it out. That makes such a big difference.”
The Griffins settled down after the opening sequence tightening up their defense, eliminating second chances, tips and odd man rushes. Most of the Gophers’ shots were from the perimeter.
Partway through the second, Minnesota began creating odd-man rushes and generating higher quality shots. Bjugstad, Rau and Erik Haula all had shots in close, but none got past Capobianco, including a two-on-one rush where Bjugstad shot the puck into Capobianco’s pad.
The Griffins’ scoring chances were extremely limited in the first and virtually non-existent in the second There best chance of the game came on a two-on-one where Wiseman fired a pick from the left circle. Wilcox made the glove save. No other shots in the second were from within 50 feet of the net.
The second and third period marked the first time all season that Minnesota has not scored a goal in a stanza.
“We have to get better,” said Lucia. “Obviously, we came out and played a real strong game against Michigan State. I think we played OK this weekend. We have to have the consistency because we play a real good team next week [home-and-home with Minnesota State].”