ANN ARBOR, Mich. — One night after Penn State earned its second Big Ten win at the expense of the Wolverines, Michigan regrouped and beat the Nittany Lions soundly, a 5-2 win to even the season series in a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the score may indicate.
Freshman Alex Kile and junior Phil Di Giuseppe each netted two goals in a game that had the Wolverines leading 4-0 nearly midway into the third period.
Michigan limited PSU to 20 shots total in the game after giving up 44 shots in Friday’s 5-4 overtime contest, outshooting the Nittany Lions 22-6 in the second period alone.
The difference for Michigan between last night’s contest and tonight’s game, according to coach Red Berenson, was attitude.
“I like the way our team responded tonight,” said Berenson. “We challenged them, obviously, after the game last night. It was a huge disappointing loss and our team needed to come out and play harder and better, and better defensively, and better with the puck, and it shows when you’re blocking shots and you’re playing the man. I thought we were a different team tonight.
“We played harder on the man, harder on the puck, we played pucks deep, we played more in their zone and we blocked more shots in our zone and we didn’t take as many penalties.”
Kile, who recorded his second and third career goals for his first multi-goal game, said that the team came together after last night’s loss.
“We played hard,” said Kile. “We didn’t give them much room out there. It was just about guys bearing down and not taking a shift off. We kind of got embarrassed in our building [last night] and it’s unacceptable being at Michigan, so we knew we had to bounce back. Different guys came into the lineup and everyone knew that we have no choice at this point in the season. It’s playoff hockey and we had to bear down.”
Missing from the lineup tonight was junior forward Alex Guptill, a healthy scratch who scored a goal against Penn State last night. Berenson said that he didn’t think that Guptill had a complete game Friday night.
Also missing from the first period onward was senior captain Mac Bennett, who suffered an upper-body injury and was helped off the ice. Berenson said that there was no news on the defenseman, who was taken to a local hospital for X-rays.
Tyler Motte gave the Wolverines a 1-0 lead at 7:48 in the first, a period in which the shots were tied 5-5.
The second period saw the first goals of the night from Kile ad Di Giuseppe, at 6:58 and 13:07, respectively.
On Kile’s goal, Penn State’s Matthew Skoff made the initial save and gave up the rebound to Kile in heavy traffic in front of the net and Di Giuseppe’s goal came on the power play, with the Nittany Lions’ penalty kill collapsed in front of the crease.
Kile’s second goal at 8:23 in the third saw Skoff make the initial save again, only to get little help on the rebound.
After that goal, Skoff was replaced by P.J. Musico, a decision that had nothing to do with Skoff’s performance, according to PSU coach Guy Gadowsky.
“I thought he played so well,” said Gadowsky. “I thought he played so, so well. At that time, it was four [goals] … and I wanted P.J. to get an experience of playing here. At that time it’s four, you sort of feel like if there’s something you can do to jar things up a little bit, get the guys going – that was how it happened.”
At 12:24, Curtis Loik opened the scoring for Penn State, crashing the net and backhanding the puck past Michigan’s Steve Racine to make it 4-1 and at 18:15, Zach Saar scored a fluky goal to make it 4-2, a puck that hit Racine, fluttering up and over the goalie’s head and landing near the left post, where Saar was able to poke it in.
While the Nittany Lions took some energy from that, Di Giuseppe’s empty-net goal at 19:05 capped the game.
Gadowsky was pleased with the way his team played for the weekend, including in tonight’s loss.
“I think we learned probably as much tonight as we did last night,” Gadowsky said. “As far as experiences go, this is a great learning weekend for us and a great growth weekend for us.”