vs. Michigan State • 7 p.m. Friday (FSN, 103.5-FM, 1130-AM); 7 p.m. Saturday (FSN Plus, 103.5-FM, 1130-AM).

Series pits a pair looking for the route to success

Preview: The second Big Ten Conference series for each team features two teams that have struggled the past three weeks. The Spartans (4-6-0, 0-2-0 Big Ten) have lost five consecutive games after being swept at home by Notre Dame (3-1 and 2-1) last weekend. The Gophers (3-5-1, 1-1-0), playing the second of three consecutive home series, are coming off a split against St. Lawrence last weekend. After losing the opener 4-3 in overtime, the Gophers won the next night 3-0 for only their second victory in the past seven games. The Gophers were 4-0 last season and are 7-0-1 in the past eight meetings against the Spartans.

Players to watch: The Spartans have been led by junior forwards Patrick Khodorenko and Taro Hirose. Khodorenko has scored a team-high seven goals while Hirose leads the Spartans with 15 points (five goals and 10 assists). Sophomore F Rem Pitlick leads the Gophers with four goals and eight points. Sophomore D Clayton Phillips has a team-high five assists. Goalies Matt Robson and Eric Schierhorn have each started twice in goal over the past four games.

Numbers: Five of Khodorenko’s goals have come on the power play, which is the most in the Big Ten and second in the nation. The Spartans are 3-18-3 against the Gophers since the beginning of the 2011-12 season.

JOEL RIPPEL