EAST LANSING, Mich. — One night after tying Michigan State, 2-2, with two seconds left in regulation and taking a shootout point from the Spartans, Ohio State came from behind again to tie Michigan State — again 2-2 — and once again prevailed in the shootout, leaving East Lansing with four conference points.
Tonight’s rematch was much less dramatic than Friday’s game, with Matt Johnson scoring both goals for the Buckeyes, the tying goal at 11:01 in the third. Greg Wolfe netted both for Michigan State on the power play in the second period when the Buckeyes found themselves in penalty trouble.
“Four points is huge against a really good hockey team,” said Ohio State coach Steve Rohlik. “They shut you down. I’m a little disappointed in our second period, a little undisciplined with the penalties, gave them the momentum back, but again our team kind of righted the ship and had a pretty good third period.
“It was like a snowball effect. We just got off our game and it’s certainly not our group. That’s not our locker room. Hopefully, we can learn from it.”
Johnson gave the Buckeyes their only lead of the night at 3:29 in the first on a very pretty play. Alex Lippincott flew down the left wing with the puck, Johnson on the right. Lippincott stopped short of the defender in the left circle, turned around and with his back to the goal shuffled the puck across to Johnson in the right circle. With Michigan State goaltender Jake Hildebrand drawn right, Johnson crossed the crease to the left and backhanded it past Hildebrand.
Wolfe opened and closed the second period with his power-play goals, scoring on the fly at :41 and from the stop of the slot at 18:26, hitting the right post and crossbar to give the Spartans a 2-1 lead heading into the third.
Johnson’s second goal was nearly identical to his first — scored after streaking in alone on the right, fed by Lippincott in the neutral zone — backhanded from the left side of the crease with Hildebrand drawn right.
The only player to score in the shootout was Nick Schilkey in the first round.
“I was curious to see tonight how we would respond after last night’s tie and then shootout loss,” said Michigan State coach Tom Anastos. “That was a very tough way to see the game end after how well we played. I thought after it took a little time, we responded fairly well. I thought we were running out of gas later in the game. We were playing a short bench, but I think guys competed really hard.
“That next goal coming in the third period was going to be a key goal. If we get it, we get ‘mo’ on our team and all of a sudden you get the crowd in it and we got the emotional edge. They get it, and now you’ve got to fight to get over it and that gave them a big lift.”
“Any time you can walk away and be down against good teams like this and come back and get two out of three points, I think it’s a huge positive and those are things you’ve got to build on, but I want this team to learn how to play with a lead instead of being behind all the time,” said Rohlik, “We seem to play better hockey when we’re behind, but I’d sure like to see us with a lead once in a while.”
Next up for Ohio State (14-9-3, 4-5-3-2 Big Ten) is a home series against Wisconsin on Feb. 14-15, while the Spartans (8-13-6, 2-5-5-3 Big Ten) travel to Penn State to take on the Nittany Lions those same dates.