DULUTH - Talented teams find different ways to win.
On Saturday, the unbeaten Gophers' strategy against Minnesota Duluth for half the game seemed to be to make every shot count.
The Gophers had four goals on their first six shots en route to a stunning 5-4 victory over the defending NCAA champions at Amsoil Arena before a sellout crowd of 6,784. That was the same score the Gophers won by on Friday in overtime.
But the rematch was a completely different game. UMD, not the Gophers, took a 2-0 lead in the second game and outshot the visitors 50-16.
Gophers goalie Kent Patterson, after stopping a career-high 46 shots the first night, tied his record the second night.
"I knew coming in it was going to be a long night," Patterson said, "especially after [Friday] night, going through all those shots. You just got to mentally prepare for each game individually and break it down minute by minute."
Said Gophers coach Don Lucia: "Our specialties won us the weekend. Our specialties and our goaltender -- when you score six power-play goals [three each game]."
Freshman Kyle Rau's goal midway through the third period gave the No. 14 Gophers (4-0, 2-0 WCHA) a 5-2 lead, a cushion they would need.
Caleb Herbert of UMD scored with 8:22 to play in the final period, J.T. Brown with 5:05 left as the Bulldogs crept within 5-4. UMD pulled Kenny Reiter, their goalie, with 80 seconds and kept the pressure on Patterson until the final horn.
Patterson stopped 18 shots in the third period, sending No. 9 UMD (1-3, 0-2) to its third loss in a row.
UMD certainly started well. Travis Oleksuk scored in the first minute and Jack Connolly in the eighth minute on a five-on-three power-play. Defenseman Brady Lamb nearly made it 3-0, but his shot clanged off a post.
Then the improbable happened: The Gophers, outshot 18-4 in the first period, tied the score before the period ended.
Jake Hansen scored from the high slot on a Gophers power play in the 13th minute. Nate Condon, who had an overtime goal Friday, got the Gophers' second goal in the 17th minute on a shot that went wide.
The puck caromed off the endboards in front of Reiter in the slot. Bulldogs defenseman Chris Casto either tried to pass the puck back to his goalie or inadvertently struck it. Either way, it found the net and Condon was credited with an unassisted goal.
"The critical moment of the game was [when] we got our first power play and [Hansen] scored," Lucia said. "Our power play is very confident right now. We were 3-for-3 on it, and we kind of battled our way back."
The Gophers took a 3-2 lead at 1:10 of the second period when Nick Bjugstad eluded a defenseman, then deked Reiter. Condon's second goal of the game, on a power play, made it 4-2 in the middle of the second.
Rau's goal midway through the third period, on a rebound from the right side of the net, proved to be the game-winner. It also continued a highly positive Gophers streak; they have at least one goal in every period this season.
"We're young; we made a lot of mistakes this weekend," Patterson said, "but like Coach [Lucia] was saying, we'd rather learn from our mistakes off a win than a loss."