The power play was clicking for the nation's No. 2 team. Every goal came with an extra skater.
ANCHORAGE, ALASKA - If the Gophers indeed were on the lookout for a little consistency, the kind of steady play worthy of their No. 2 national ranking, they made great strides to do so here Friday night.
They also kept the power-play party going in the process.
Minnesota scored on its first four power-play chances and easily dispatched of Alaska Anchorage 4-0 at Sullivan Arena. The Gophers won their fifth straight against the Seawolves dating back to last season and kicked off their final appearance in Anchorage as a member of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association in fine form.
"You have to do things well to win, and tonight we did," said Gophers coach Don Lucia. "Just playing well doesn't always mean you're going to win. Tonight, we did a lot of good things."
Kyle Rau scored twice. Erik Haula and Nate Schmidt each totaled two assists, and goaltender Adam Wilcox finished with 14 saves to earn his second shutout of the season.
The teams conclude their weekend series tonight at 10.
After going 4-for-11 on the power play during last weekend's split with Minnesota State Mankato, the Gophers' time spent with the extra attacker only got better. Minnesota finished 4-for-6 on the power play Friday -- making for memorable math in the last three games (8-for-17 -- 47 percent).
"We had a great day out there, which felt really good," Rau said. "Erik made a couple of real good passes. He's the one who saw me.
"I just tried to get open in that soft area. It was nice to get on track."
The Gophers' skill display didn't take long to debut in front of the announced crowd of 2,674.
Rau scored the first of two Minnesota first-period power-play goals at 4 minutes, 16 seconds. With the draw in the left faceoff circle, Rau scooped out a loose puck near the dot and swiftly maneuvered his way right. Alaska seemingly went to sleep defensively and Rau snapped a shot past goaltender Chris Kamal.
The goal was Rau's third of the season.
The Gophers (6-2-0 overall, 3-2-0 WCHA) continued to swarm on the Seawolves throughout most of the opening period, outshooting Alaska 8-2 in the process.
Bjugstad spotted Minnesota a 2-0 edge at 17:56 by taking advantage of the kind of respectful space an NHL first-round draft pick adores. The Gophers controlled the puck on their second power play when defenseman Schmidt left a pass for Bjugstad near the left sideboards.
As the Seawolves backed off, Bjugstad took a few strides into the left circle and whistled a shot through Kamal. The goal was Bjugstad's fifth.
Alaska Anchorage (2-3-2, 0-2-1) put a little more pressure on the Gophers at both ends of the ice in the second period -- but not much.
Seawolves senior Alex Gellert couldn't convert on Wilcox at 4:37. Gellert moved in on Wilcox and snapped a shot high over the Wilcox's left shoulder and out of harm's way.
Meanwhile, Minnesota remained red hot on the power play.
Rau notched his second goal of the evening and the Gophers' third with the extra attacker at 7:09. Haula and Schmidt worked the puck along the right boards before Haula hit Rau all alone in the slot. Rau wasted little time beating Kamal between the goalie's pads.
After playing forward the past three games, Gophers defenseman Ben Marshall moved back to the blue line -- and into the scoring column for the third time this season. The Detroit Red Wings draft pick skated in from the right point and snapped a shot past Kamal 13:05.
Wilcox's best save of the night came 12 minutes into the final period. Alaska defenseman Derek Docken bore down the right side of the slot and pushed a backhander toward the left post. Wilcox alertly kicked the puck away with his padded right leg.
|Chicago Cubs - LP: E. Jackson||2||FINAL|
|Pittsburgh - WP: V. Mazzaro||4|
|Baltimore - LP: K. Gausman||6||FINAL|
|Toronto - WP: B. Morrow||12|
|Cleveland - WP: Z. McAllister||12||FINAL|
|Boston - LP: R. Dempster||3|
|Minnesota - LP: J. Burton||6||FINAL|
|Detroit - WP: J. Benoit||7|
|LA Angels - WP: J. Blanton||5||FINAL|
|Kansas City - LP: E. Santana||4|