MADISON, WIS. – A three-goal opening period carried the No. 5 Gophers to a 4-1 victory over Wisconsin on Saturday night at the Kohl Center.
One night after losing 4-3 in overtime — after squandering a 2-0 lead in the second period — Minnesota came back strong against their border rival in the 300th meeting since the series began in 1922.
"Good response by us tonight, we had a good look about us," Gophers coach Bob Motzko said. "Great start, stayed strong, and a lot of good performances by a lot of players tonight."
Freshmen Matthew Knies and Aaron Huglen scored less two minutes apart for the Gophers (6-4, 3-1 Big Ten) in the rematch.
Knies got his fourth goal of the season after collecting the puck off the endboards and firing it ahead and it somehow caromed in at 6:12.
Huglen beat two Wisconsin players to a loose puck in the right circle, skated in front and shot for an unassisted goal, his second.
Jaxon Nelson, a junior, made it 3-0 on a power-play goal at 14:56. His second goal this season came during a goalmouth scramble.
With 1:58 left in the first period, Gophers goalie Jack LaFontaine was injured and helped off the ice after making a save — Justen Close replaced him and was tested but stopped all three shots he faced.
LaFontaine, who had played every single minute in the Gophers' first nine games, was back in the net for the second period.
He faced early pressure in his return. Wisconsin, on the power play, got a goal from Roman Ahcan at 51 seconds.
Gophers captain Sammy Walker answered with his fifth goal of the season 16 seconds after the Badgers' goal to make it 4-1 Gophers.
That prompted Badgers to pull goalie Cameron Rowe, whohad 12 saves. Jared Moe, the junior transfer from Minnesota, replaced him. Moe, who had a career-high 44 saves on Friday, stopped 12 shots in a relief role. But the Badgers (4-6, 2-2) could not add on to their one goal.
LaFontaine finished with a season-high 34 saves.
"Jack has a little scare, Jack is great in goal," Motzko said. "Close comes in, made three saves. It was a big win for us."
With this victory, the Gophers now lead 176-100-24 in the long-running series with the Badgers.
Elsewhere in college hockey:
Ohio State 4, No. 16 Penn State 1: Mason Lohrei and Mark Cheremeta each had a goal and an assist as the host Buckeyes (6-2, 3-1) swept the Nittany Lions (6-3, 0-2) by scoring all four of their goals in the third period.
No. 3 Michigan 3, Michigan State 2: Matty Beniers scored twice in the first period in two minutes to lead the Wolverines (8-2, 3-1) over the host Spartans (4-5-1, 1-3).
No. 2 Minnesota State Mankato 5, Ferris State 1: Cade Borchardt and Reggie Lutz scored power-play goals in the second period to lead the Mavericks (7-3, 3-1 CCHA) over the host Bulldogs (4-6, 2-2). After Lutz's goal at 15:28 seconds of the middle period put MSU Mankato ahead 2-1, teammate David Silye scored 17 seconds later. Dryden McKay made 19 saves for the Mavericks.
Bowling Green 3, St. Thomas 0: Alex Barber's power-play goal with 10 seconds left in the first period gave the host Falcons (5-1-2, 3-1) a 1-0 lead, which is all they needed to win. Peter Thome had 27 saves for St. Thomas (1-11, 1-7).
No. 1 St. Cloud State 4, Colorado College 1: Kevin Fitzgerald had the last goal and two assists as the Huskies (8-2, 2-0 NCHC) beat the Tigers (2-6-2, 0-2) in Colorado Springs. Micah Miller's shorthanded goal with 22 seconds left in the opening period put SCSU ahead 2-0. David Hrenak had 23 saves for the Huskies.
No. 8 North Dakota 4, No. 11 Denver 1: Tyler Kleven's 4-on-4 goal midway through the opening period was the winner as the Fighting Hawks (6-3, 2-0) swept the host Pioneers (4-4, 0-2)..
No. 4 Minnesota Duluth 3, No. 10 Western Michigan 0: Tanner Laderoute scored two goals, one shorthanded, as UMD (6-2, 1-1) got a split against the Broncos (6-2, 1-1) in Kalamazoo, Mich.