EAST LANSING, MICH. – After scoring nine goals combined in their past two games to win the Mariucci Classic, the Gophers left their offense at home.
No. 20 Michigan State beat the Gophers 4-1 on Friday night in the opener of a Big Ten men’s hockey series at Munn Ice Arena before a sellout crowd of 6,346.
“[The Spartans] had much more snarl in their game tonight,” Gophers coach Bob Motzko said. “We were going OK, then we take the bad penalty, and they score — then 27 seconds later we’re down 2-0. We chased the rest of the way.”
The Spartans (11-9-1, 7-3-1) led 3-0 after the first period and 4-0 after the second. The Gophers’ goal came at 13 minutes, 38 seconds of the third, when freshman defenseman Jackson Lacombe scored the first goal of his college career on a power play.
Michigan State’s first two goals actually came 24 seconds apart in the opening period. Mitch Lewandowski scored on a power play at 7:23 — only the second power play goal the Gophers have allowed in eight games — and on the next shift Gianluca Esteves got his second goal of the season. Patrick Khodorenko got the Spartans’ third goal, his team-leading 11th, with 1:32 left in the period.
The Gophers (7-10-4, 2-5-4-3) switched goalies for the second period, replacing Jack LaFontaine, who had given up three goals on nine shots, with Jared Moe.
Sam Saliba beat Moe midway through the second to make it 4-0 Spartans.
John Lethemon stopped 25 shots for the Spartans. Moe had 14 saves for the Gophers over the last two periods.
Michigan State had a 15-3 advantage in shots at one time early in the second period, but the Gophers actually finished with two more shots on net, 26-24, after outshooting the home team 19-6 in the third period. A lot of those 19 shots came on Minnesota’s eight power plays, including three brief 5-on-3s.
With the loss, the Gophers’ season-best three-game unbeaten streak (2-0-1) ended. Michigan State has won four of the past five games against Minnesota dating to last season.