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Penn State Bounces Back With 6-4 Win Over Michigan State

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The Nittany Lions finally broke through John Lethemon as they settled for a series split with the Spartans.

Heather Weikel | Black Shoe Diaries

Goals By Period

Team 1st 2nd 3rd OT Final
Team 1st 2nd 3rd OT Final
Michigan State 0 2 2 x 4
Penn State 2 3 1 x 6

Guy Gadowsky’s message following Penn State’s shutout loss to Michigan State on Friday was simple. Assuming John Lethemon wouldn’t have back-to-back career nights, the Nittany Lions just had to stick to their game and the goals would come.

Lethemon looked mortal once again on Saturday as the Nittany Lions pumped five goals past him en route to a 6-4 win over the Spartans.

While the Nittany Lions emerged victorious, Gadowsky wasn’t as optimistic about Saturday’s performance as he was about Friday’s. He pointed out the difference in possession time between the two nights, in part a product of Penn State’s discipline on Friday. The Nittany Lions stayed out of the box on Friday, but gave up five power plays to the Spartans on Saturday.

Though the Nittany Lions had fewer chances on Saturday, the quality of those chances was greater than on Friday.

“I think we made it a little bit more difficult on their goaltender,” Gadowsky said.

After posting a career-high 48 saves on Friday, Spartans goalie John Lethemon allowed five goals on 30 shots on Saturday. The Nittany Lions were overcome with a sense of relief after Nikita Pavlychev broke through midway through the opening period.

“One of, hopefully we broke the dam,” Gadowsky said of the reaction on the bench. “That certainly wasn’t the best chance we had all weekend. We had 10 better ones yesterday. It was just great to see one go in.”

How It Happened

Midway through the first period, the Nittany Lions finally broke through John Lethemon. Following a scramble in front of the Spartans net, Nikita Pavlychev lifted a shot into the top corner.

A few minutes later, Evan Barratt produced another highlight reel to add to his lacrosse-style goal from last season.

Early in the second period, the Spartans cut Penn State’s lead in half with a power play tally. Mitchell Lewandowski finished off a tic-tac-toe play as he buried a one timer over the glove of Peyton Jones.

Barely a minute later, Clayton Phillips responded with his first as a Nittany Lion. The Pittsburgh Penguins draft pick fired a shot from just inside the blue line that found a way through traffic and past Lethemon.

A few minutes later, the Nittany Lions tallied a power play goal of their own. After drawing the penalty, Alex Limoges deflected a Barratt shot past Lethemon just four seconds into the man advantage.

Sam Sternschein added another a few minutes later, firing a wrist shot past Lethemon on a two-on-one with Aarne Talvitie.

The Spartans got one back shortly before the period ended. Patrick Khodorenko danced around Mason Snell and slid the puck past Jones on the power play.

The Spartans drew within a pair with just under eight minutes to play as Dennis Cesana sniped a shot glove side on Jones.

With Lethemon off for an extra attacker, Khodorenko buried his second of the game on a rebound to bring the Spartans within a goal.

Shortly after, Denis Smirnov hit the empty net to ice the game for Penn State.