Facing a four-game road trip, Penn State (10-2-0) needed to get points any way that it could. The team refused to give in all night, matching Ohio State (8-4-1) shot for shot, goal for goal, coming away with a massive win for the Lions.
The first period was dominated by the Buckeyes, including two shots off the post, but Penn State allowed just one goal. The second period saw Penn State score 3 goals, heading into the final period with a lead for the third consecutive game. The Lions were unable to hold a pair of 4-2 third period leads a week earlier versus Michigan.
This time the defense, with Peyton Jones in net, was able to hold. Denis Smirnov got the game-winning goal in the third period to garner three points in the B1G standings for the Lions.
The teams will play game two of the series on Saturday night at 8 p.m.
How It Happened
Ohio State hit the post twice in the first 7 minutes. The Lions could have had the first power play of the game but Alex Stevens was called for embellishment on the play when he was tripped to the ice. Penn State had two questionable embellishment calls last weekend and this one was not any better.
The Buckeyes held the advantage in shots 8-5 through the first ten minutes. The teams skated back and forth with fury but it took 15 minutes for either side to have a sustained offensive threat. Denis Smirnov, paired with Ludwig Larsson and Max Sauve, got four shots on one trip, holding the puck in the zone. Less than a minute later Derian Hamilton took the first penalty of the game and the Lions had to defend, killing its offensive momentum.
Mason Jobst beat Peyton Jones over his glove for a power-play goal, giving Ohio State an early 1-0 lead. Jones was screened on the play, having no chance. With just over a minute to play in the opening period, the Buckeyes had another scoring chance and Jones was able to cover with his knees but he also looked back into the net to try to find the puck.
With two hit goal posts and a few odd-man rushes allowed, Penn State was fortunate to get to the locker room down just 1-0.
The Lions came out ready to play in the second period, controlling momentum early and gaining a power-play in the opening minute. While they were not able to get a goal, it did give the visiting team a few minutes with the wind at their back.
Kris Myllari sent a long pass down the ice to Evan Barratt, who took it and got a shot on goal, which slowly leaked through the right arm of Sean Romeo and into the net. The game was tied five minutes into the second period. Penn State continued to pour on the offense, with 14:14 to play in the period, it had a 20-14 shots on goal edge.
Brandon Biro took a pass from Liam Folkes that went through the legs of two Buckeyes, tapping it in for the power-play goal and 2-1 lead midway through the game. A couple minutes later Ohio State tied the game on a short-handed goal.
The momentum flew to the side of the Buckeyes for the moment, as the Lions were also called for a penalty, negating their own power-play. That didn’t stop Cole Hults, who tucked a goal in behind Romeo a minute later during 4 on 4 play to give the Lions a 3-2 advantage.
With 1:44 to go Mason Jobst hit the post after Kevin Kerr lost an edge and gave a quick 3 on 1 turnover opportunity. It was the third post of the night for OSU.
Early in the final period John Wiitala tied the game when he got an open look past Peyton Jones. Jones made a great save a couple of minutes later to keep the game tied, but the Lions were called for a penalty on the play.
Penn State killed the penalty and then got a chance of their own with 11:42 to go when the Buckeyes had a hand pass on a face-off. Denis Smirnov got a power-play goal to give the Lions a 4-3 lead.
Nikita Pavlychev was called for a penalty with 8:50 to play, which was painful since the big forward is so important on the penalty kill. Peyton Jones made a couple big saves and got help from his defense as well, killing the penalty.
Jones was called on to make saves and cover pucks for the final minutes of the game. He was up to the task. Ohio State pulled Romeo from the net with two minutes to play and had many offensive threats. With 24.3 seconds left Pavlyvchev threw a shot toward the goal from Penn State’s defensive zone, hitting the side of the net, just inches from another goal.
Here are the highlights of the game.