STATE COLLEGE, PA. – Leaving behind the friendly confines of Mariucci Arena, the Gophers were able to make some noise on the road against Penn State and create some separation on top of the Big Ten standings.
Refocusing after a lackluster first period in which the fans cheered off the home team, the Gophers turned around with the help of the team's fourth line.
The Gophers scored twice in a 2-minute, 38-second stretch of the second period to overcome an early deficit and beat Penn State 2-1 on Friday night.
Christian Isackson and Justin Kloos scored for the Gophers (17-9-3, 8-2-3 Big Ten), who moved three points ahead of Michigan in the conference after the Wolverines lost to Ohio State 5-3 on Friday.
The Gophers also extended a season-long unbeaten streak to seven games against a Nittany Lions team that had lost only once at Pegula Ice Arena this season.
"It was a big win for us," Gophers coach Don Lucia said after his team improved to 3-5-2 on the road this season. "You see they play very well here and there's a reason they had only lost one game here."
Penn State (15-10-4, 7-5-1) got on the board first 12:47 in when David Goodwin, who was stopped on a partial breakaway by Adam Wilcox earlier, found space between the crossbar and the Gophers goalie.
The Nittany Lions nearly got a second goal in the closing seconds of the first period. Minnesota was able to make adjustments for the final 40 minutes, changing course.
"They came out 1,000 miles per hour, which we expected," Kloos said. "We just came up a little bit lacking focus, but luckily we were able to weather the storm and get it going just enough to get a 2-1 win."
Lucia made a decision Friday night to move freshman defenseman Jack Glover, a healthy scratch the last five games, to the team's fourth line alongside Isackson and A.J. Michaelson.
The move paid off for the Gophers. Glover, who began practicing as a forward midweek, began the play that set up Isackson's tying goal 2:19 into the second period and set the tone for the rest of the night.
Less than 3 minutes later, Kloos got his 10th goal of the season to give the Gophers the lead on a power play.
From there, the Gophers had to hold off a high-powered Penn State team that averages 40 shots per game.
Wilcox, who finished with 35 saves, stopped all 15 Nittany Lions shots on goal in the third period. Several more were blocked by defensemen, continuing a stretch where the Gophers focused on defense.
Friday was the fifth consecutive game in which the Gophers gave up two goals or fewer. Last weekend, they swept Michigan to move into a tie with the Wolverines for first place.
"I think with a 2-1 lead you don't want to be on your heels, but you definitely want to make simple plays," said Isackson about the team's plans.
"Just keep it simple in the third period. Don't go for anything crazy."
The strategy worked.