MADISON, Wis. — There was not much to be proud of in terms of special teams for No. 9 Wisconsin in the first 34 minutes of its Big Ten game Friday against Ohio State.
The Buckeyes foiled the Badgers on a five-minute power play and later scored two power-play goals of their own to lead at the Kohl Center.
A three-minute stretch changed the landscape in a big way.
Wisconsin got a successful penalty kill around a pair of goals late in the second period and secured a 5-3 victory to improve to 13-1-1 at home this season.
Tyler Barnes scored the go-ahead goal and added a pair of assists for the Badgers, who won for the 11th time in 12 meetings against their new conference rival.
But Barnes’ goal wouldn’t have happened had the Badgers not clamped down on the penalty kill after allowing Ryan Dzingel and Nick Schilkey power-play goals in the first and second periods, respectively.
Wisconsin’s Michael Mersch went to the box for holding 15:10 into the second period, giving the Buckeyes a chance to build on a 2-for-2 start with the power play.
The Badgers allowed only one shot on goal over the two minutes, and just after the penalty expired, center Mark Zengerle forced a turnover by Ohio State’s Sam Jardine and fed Barnes for a 3-2 lead.
“Getting one back right off the penalty kill was big for us,” Barnes said.
The stretch, which started when Morgan Zulinick tied the game 40 seconds before the Mersch penalty, was just as damaging for the Buckeyes.
“It really changed everything, to be honest with you,” Buckeyes coach Steve Rohlik said. “When you’re up on the road, you’re in a good position. And all of a sudden the momentum changes, you get a little lazy back on pucks. These teams are too good. When you make breakdowns like that they’re going to make you pay, and Wisconsin made us pay.”
Opening its first two-game series against Ohio State (11-9-1, 1-5-1 Big Ten) in program history, Wisconsin (14-6-1, 5-2) added to the lead early in the third period when Joe Faust snapped a shot past Buckeyes goalie Matt Tomkins (24 saves).
Ohio State’s David Gust cut the lead to one with a short-handed goal with 2:27 remaining, but the Badgers answered later on the same power play when Joseph LaBate scored to seal the game.
The Buckeyes lost second-line center Nick Oddo for the game after just 7:49 when he was given a major for checking from behind and a game misconduct.
Wisconsin got four shots on goal during the ensuing power play but Tomkins kept the Badgers from extending a 1-0 lead they built on Jake McCabe’s goal 2:20 into the game.
Each team then got the benefit of a fortunate bounce.
Ohio State tied the game 1-1 in the first period when Dzingel let loose with a slap shot that was headed wide of the net until it hit McCabe in front and redirected past Joel Rumpel (23 saves).
Zulinick started the game-changing stretch when his shot rebounded off Tomkins’ pad, hit Ohio State winger Anthony Greco’s skate and crawled back over the goal line.
Wisconsin’s top line of Zulinick, Zengerle and Barnes combined for two goals and five assists, and each was plus-2.
“They were a good force tonight,” Badgers coach Mike Eaves said. “They need to be consistent with that. If they can do that they’ll be a force to be reckoned with.”